The Change of Cultural Change

The Change of Cultural Change

An excellent example of a leader who successfully transformed the company’s organizational culture is Satya Nadella at Microsoft Company. This is because of Microsoft’s ubiquity as a company that houses more than 120,000 employees (Walke, 2019). The CEO had a model that emphasized concepts, capabilities, and culture. He firmly believed that Microsoft needed a culture that supported new concepts and capabilities. Nadella employed a ‘growth mindset’ that profoundly impacted the overall performance of the company.

When he became the CEO of Microsoft by replacing Bill Gates, Nadella saw the need to make some changes. In 2015, he announced a new company mission that replaced Gates’s original mission, “a computer on every desk and in every home” (Ibarra, Rattan, & Johnston, 2018). Thus, the culture shifted from “know-it-all” to “learn-it-all,” a growth mindset that stood on three foundational pillars – customer obsession, diversity and inclusion, and “One Microsoft.” According to Ibarra, Rattan, and Johnston (2018), the obsession with customers involved the capacity for the business to desire and be curious to exceed customer expectations. Diversity emphasized the capacity to welcome a wide range of ideas, opinions, and perspectives. “One Microsoft” essentially created a culture of teamwork and collaboration. 

Four years after introducing the new culture, he instilled the idea that the tech industry does not respect tradition but innovation. Today, Microsoft has been voted a top-five AI company for employees with Nadella receiving an employee approval rating of 95 percent by Glassdoor (Ibarra, Rattan, & Johnston, 2018). It was a successful transformation that saw employees adopt an optimistic view of where the company was heading and felt they were making the right choices for the long-term benefit of the company and individual stakeholders. The change saw the management at Microsoft prioritize elements such as talent movement and management, which rarely existed before.

The effect of Nadella on the strategic change of Microsoft was well-calculated. Chiara Refauter (2018) argues that leading cultural change for a massive global tech giant with a sizable workforce such as Microsoft is difficult. Often, efforts towards change fail, especially when a new CEO takes over a legacy of a past successful leader and wishes to turn around things. However, Nadella overcame all odds and succeeded. As Della Cava (207) notes, part of his strategies include performing an in-depth diagnosis to identify critical issues, initiate a correct course of action, shape the narrative, and ground change. In other words, Nadella became successful because he adopted a working model of effective change.

Reforming a company is a massive task. It is even more challenging, instilling new ideas that conflict with those a previous CEO and founder had executed. When Microsoft’s performance deteriorated, Nadella identified vital behaviors that would have the most overall impact; he evoked a growth mindset. He knew for change to occur, he had to lead as an example by empowering others to accept change. The milestones Nadella has achieved with the company prove that corporate culture change is not only successful but also sustainable. 


Della Cava, M. (2017). Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is counting on culture shock to drive growth. USA Today. Retrieved December 31, 2018.

Ibarra, H., Rattan, A., & Johnston, A. (2018). Satya Nadella at Microsoft: Instilling a growth mindset. Harvard Business Review case no. LBS128 (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Refäuter, C. (2018). Microsoft’s renewal: the effect a new CEO can have on strategic change and firm performance (Doctoral dissertation).

Walke, S. (2019). Transforming the culture at Microsoft- How Satya Nadella turned around the culture of a 120,000 strong organization?. Retrieved July 4, 2020, from

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