Hit Refresh Review: Why you should read this book?

Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone is a book written by Satya Nadella published on September 2017. It secured 3.7/5 rating in Goodreads and 4.4/5 in Amazon.

If you’re looking to read about the accounts and actions of a new CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world, then this book’s for you. This post is a part of the BookReview series where I post reviews of the book I read in a month.

Image credits: By OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Satya Nadella, an Indian born American engineer and the third CEO of Microsoft, contemplates his childhood memories in Hit Refresh and connect the lessons he learnt from his childhood favorite game, cricket, to leadership and management. Satya feels that cricket has taught him how a person should put his team’s overall growth before his own.

A single over-ambitious man in the team with a self-destructive mindset can sabotage the whole team.  He also recalls the event when his ‘off-spin bowling was getting hammered’ by his opponents and the captain replacing Nadella with himself and taking a wicket. The captain asked him to bowl again and the inspired Nadella took seven wickets. Nadella feels this is how a leader should be – the one who inspires.

Microsoft has been dominating the PC market for nearly three decades but it didn’t secure significant market share in mobile and cloud industries. Windows Phone OS didn’t gained the popularity it deserved and cloud services like Amazon AWS were already a success. Steve Ballmer infamously acquired Nokia, later only to write-down which led to his stepping down as CEO.

Nokia running on Windows OS
Nokia running on Windows OS

Satya mentions about his son, Zain, whose birth changed his life forever. Zain suffered  asphyxiation in utero and is visually impaired, has limited communication  and quadriplegic. One day, when walking into Zain’s room, Nadella realized how medical devices connected to the cloud and running on Windows are changing the life of a boy with disabilities. How the technology which we take for granted impacts and changes the lives of people with disabilities can be astonishing. He feels that only by being empathetic towards the disabled can we make a change in their life.

Engineers and leaders who lead engineers should be empathetic to the needs of people with disabilities. Nadella says that it’s one of the principles of his life – empathy. He feels that a large corporation like Microsoft should make technology easily and affordably accessible to people with such special needs.

In his book, he says C in CEO stands for Culture. He recalls about a cartoon that pictured Microsoft as a group of warring gangs pointing gun towards one another.

Microsoft Comic Hit Refresh
Cartoon by Manu Cornet

Nadella writes, “I had experienced some of that disharmony in my various roles. But I never saw it as insolvable.”

His primary goal after becoming CEO was to change the culture of Microsoft for better. Bill Gates and Paul Allen originally started Microsoft as a company to make computers available to everyone. They almost accomplished that goal. Nadella says that Microsoft had not lost its soul but what it needs now a renewal.

Later in the book, Nadella writes about the importance of trust between the producers and consumers of technology. He mention about incidents such as Snowden leak, Sony hack and San Bernardino attack which made the world even more concerned about privacy and individual rights than ever before.

Quotes I liked in the book

Learning to fly is not pretty but flying is. Pg.111

Success can cause people to unlearn the habits that made them successful in the first place.
Pg. 128

Few takeaways from the book:

  • You need to be a lifelong learner. Unless you update yourself, what you know now won’t always help you in the future.
  • Anticipate the future and act accordingly. Microsoft lost its share in mobile industry because it failed to act.
  • Sometimes, you just need to act what you feel is right even when people around you oppose it. Did I just mention Jon Snow? 😉
  • Privacy and freedom of speech is more important now than ever.
  • A good leader is always a good listener.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and I believe you will like the book even more. If you liked this post, subscribe to my newsletter and share this post with your friends.

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