If a key to success is learning from your mistakes, Microsoft should be well positioned for 2014.
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Ballmer Had To Go
In some ways, Steve Ballmer might never get the credit he deserves. Though Microsoft's stock price hasn't moved much during his tenure, the CEO oversaw years of revenue growth that made the company what it is today. Nevertheless, he's also placed some terrible bets, such as infamously dismissing the potential of devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
Microsoft's board appears to believe in the One Microsoft vision, but both the CEO and his co-directors know that someone else needs to take the helm. Under his leadership, the company executed the rollout of Windows 8 and the Surface line with the nuance of a bull in a china shop. The company has corrected much of this in recent months with Windows 8.1, but some of the missteps, such as initially forcing Win 8 users to boot to the Modern UI, were foreseeably wrong-headed.
Ballmer represents an era of PC monopolies, stack-ranking employee evaluations, and siloed management. By his own admission, he realized the company needed new blood to lead it into an era of collaborative, multidevice, cross-platform workplaces. The Microsoft board reportedly accepted his decision without debate -- lesson learned.
Any additional lessons derived from Ballmer's departure will become clear in 2014, when the company will announce its next CEO. Will he or she be an insider? Someone with a technical background? Will the next CEO share Ballmer's desire to reach consumers?