The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

How To Stop The Smallest Minds In The Room Create The Biggest Headaches …

I recently read an article in the Guardian about the launch of the X-Box.

Given the brand has been part of gaming culture for the past 20 years, it’s easy to forget what an achievement this has been for Microsoft.

Let’s remember back then, the brand was far more synonymous with office computer programs than gaming … so to come from such a negative space and place to become the powerhouse it is today, is nothing short of incredible.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing.

Sure, their cause was helped by SONY seemingly forgetting everything that had made the original PlayStation launch so successful … but even with that, Microsoft were still coming from pretty much a standing start.

It’s a great article that’s well worth the read, but there was one part that really stood out to me.


Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there …

Where someone chooses to ignore a statement of obviousness and instead, attempts to turn it around so you look like you’re making a potentially dangerous assumption.

Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t blindly assume common sense is common sense, and – without doubt – there’s been a lot of unsubstantiated assumptions that have ended up being the backbone of ideas and campaigns all around the World, but this sort of behaviour is nothing but an act of petty cowardice.

However, let’s assume for a moment the person who wanted proof that people did expect DVD quality to be better than the crunched-up shit that was on screen, was right.

Let’s assume that we didn’t know that DVD brands had been communicating ‘improved image quality’ to the general public for years.

Even if all that was true, the real issue was still not being addressed.

And that is facts doesn’t mean standards.

So rather than fall into a ‘fact inflation fight’ that no one was going to come out of well – even though I get why they were triggered – they should have asked Mr Petty if the image on the screen reflected the quality of product and performance he – and the company – wanted to globally be associated with?

Quickly followed up by enquiring whether Microsoft had the technology to dramatically improve the current standard of performance?

By doing this, they not only side-step the pointless barrier being placed in front of them and refocused the conversation to values, standards and ambition.

I’ve seen this situation happen so many times.

Where political point scoring derails ambition, potential and standards.

Where the company starts focusing on the ‘minimum viable product’ rather than what could drive the brands perception.

And while these situations have also seen me lose my shit – A LOT – I always remember my Dad telling me the real way to win these sorts of arguments, which is to elevate the discussion to reputational standards not down to petty point scoring.

He was brilliant at it.

Me? I’m still working on it.

15 Comments so far
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This is great Rob. Really great.

Comment by George

Hope today is better for you. So sorry about your friend. I know how much you cared for them.

Comment by George


Comment by Pete

+ 2

Comment by Bazza

Thanks mate. Still in shock, sadness and loss to be honest.

But hopefully soon I can reveal something we’re going to be doing in their honour. Something their Mum said she would like. How their Mum had the generosity of spirit to even think this way is beyond me. But then their child was equally as generous.

Comment by Rob

Big hugs to you Robbie.

Jemma xo

Comment by Jemma King

Also known as working with mediocre management.
Engineers would never behave this way. They express their talent through the quality of their work. Mediocre management think it is done through speed or money.

Comment by Pete

Not all engineers.

Comment by George

Wouldn’t it have been an engineer who did the video compression?

Comment by John

Exactly why I said “not all engineers”.

Comment by George

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that challenge came from a Microsoft engineer.

Does anyone know if Microsoft brought new engineers for the Xbox project or did they move people from within the company?

It must have been very strange for Microsoft employees to go from being told their job was about creating business efficiency computing to products designed to appeal to needs and tastes of gamers.

Comment by Bazza

Don’t know. That’s a good point though.

What a mindfuck it would be for some of them.

Comment by Rob

What are you talking about Pete? I assumed it was totally an engineer who challenged the guy about the publics expectation of DVD. OK, so you work with them much more than me … but my experience has seen far too many approach challenges with the attitude of ‘what does it have to do’ rather than ‘what is the best version of what we have to make happen”.

Though to be fair, that’s more because of the environment they work in than maybe their specific ambition.

Comment by Rob

I can have a different opinion. I guess my point was coming from my personal perspective. I see what others are saying. It just has not been my experience working with engineers. But then I never worked at Microsoft in the early 2000’s.

Comment by Pete

You are seeing 2021 out on a high. This has been an excellent week of posts Robert. I know it has also been a week of personal challenges so I hope you are feeling OK. I am here to chat should you want to. Thank you for this post, I will be sending it to a colleague who recently told me about a similar situation he faced.

Comment by Lee Hill

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