Hit Refresh

Hit Refresh

As told by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Hit Refresh is the story of corporate change and reinvention as well as the story of Nadella’s personal journey, one that is taking place today inside a storied technology company, and one that is coming in all of our lives as intelligent machines become more ambient and more ubiquitous. It’s about how people, organizations and socie...

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Title:Hit Refresh
Author:Satya Nadella
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Edition Language:English

Hit Refresh Reviews

  • Graeme Roberts

    In the first half, I despaired of any value in this book, though I did enjoy hearing about Mr. Nadella's youth in India, his family, and his love of cricket, which would endear him to anyone from the Commonwealth, including me. Like all companies that have owned a powerful franchise (DOS/Windows and Office) Microsoft had lagged in innovation, and come too late to the Web and mobile, and almost too late for the Cloud. This is central to the very nature of technology business, and not a failure of

    In the first half, I despaired of any value in this book, though I did enjoy hearing about Mr. Nadella's youth in India, his family, and his love of cricket, which would endear him to anyone from the Commonwealth, including me. Like all companies that have owned a powerful franchise (DOS/Windows and Office) Microsoft had lagged in innovation, and come too late to the Web and mobile, and almost too late for the Cloud. This is central to the very nature of technology business, and not a failure of management, in my opinion. I experienced, as an employee of Kodak, the political and technical difficulties of developing new business as your key technology (silver halide imaging in our case) gradually loses its monopoly. Political infighting often takes over, because new technologies often threaten the livelihood of existing employees and partners.

    My heart sank as Mr. Nadella began to spout chillingly familiar bullshit about the need for listening to customers and learning from them, employee empowerment, and empathy, culminating in a mission that was meant to excite the employees soon after his appointment:

    Shit. And, of course, he then nobly emphasized diversity and inclusion, imperatives for political survival, if not success.

    Suddenly, the book changed. On page 119 he mentioned "rose petals in a field of shit," and we were off and running. He began talking in active terms about the need for leaders to generate energy and make things happen—to deliver success. He very quickly started to

    and all the sloganeering and empty words were left behind in a cloud of dust. He focused the company on the few businesses and technologies with the greatest potential for growth, and expanded Microsoft's partnering efforts, meeting with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and fellow Indian, and building on his own intense business development background with Windows NT, the first of Microsoft's server products. Microsoft also acquired LinkedIn, finding that the two organizations shared many values and a commitment to honor, essential ingredients of trust. Nadella credits the economic success of the United States to innovation and the existence of the political and economic institutions that support business growth. He seems a deeply honorable man, highly intelligent and even scholarly, influenced profoundly by his late mother, who was a scholar of Sanskrit. The political and economic institutions of his native country are relatively weak (although rapidly improving) but his sense of honor, love of family, and fundamental decency that were formed there are central to his success in the United States.

    Satya Nadella described the painful process of setting new directions for the business, with strong emphasis on the Cloud, mobile, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing, but always centered on the fundamental needs of human beings. I bought some Microsoft stock not long after he was appointed, mostly just to keep track of him, and I am very glad that I did. I think that there is an excellent chance that the company will be great again under his leadership.

    I would suggest this book to investors, tech industry followers, and business historians. No one ever became a great leader by reading about it, but aspiring executives might get some ideas.

  • Shaina Magat

    Really loved the first half of this book. Overall information was really good but it got a little too technical and regulation based in the back half.

  • Vinayak Kesarwani

    Ranging somewhere around 3.5 stars, this book is Satya Nadella's manifesto. His worldview on how technology is going to shape up the world in coming times. The beginning parts present stories from his life - school, Microsoft, transitions etc. The end parts however contain more of his manifesto, about how technology and society should interact etc which makes this difficult to read at times. Still not a bad read from one of the new CEOs of a tech giant. 1 time read for sure. Also, follow the sou

    Ranging somewhere around 3.5 stars, this book is Satya Nadella's manifesto. His worldview on how technology is going to shape up the world in coming times. The beginning parts present stories from his life - school, Microsoft, transitions etc. The end parts however contain more of his manifesto, about how technology and society should interact etc which makes this difficult to read at times. Still not a bad read from one of the new CEOs of a tech giant. 1 time read for sure. Also, follow the sources listed at the end of the book.

  • Wen

    This read was entirely for work; I nevertheless decided to write a review for those thinking about picking up the book.

    To me this book was the written form of an inspirational speech by Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft, who succeeded Steve Ballmer in 2014.

    The book consisted three parts. Nadella first gave a brief description of his background: growing up in India, obsessed in cricket, studied EE in college and moved to the U.S. to obtain masters in CS, joined Microsoft shortly after

    This read was entirely for work; I nevertheless decided to write a review for those thinking about picking up the book.

    To me this book was the written form of an inspirational speech by Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft, who succeeded Steve Ballmer in 2014.

    The book consisted three parts. Nadella first gave a brief description of his background: growing up in India, obsessed in cricket, studied EE in college and moved to the U.S. to obtain masters in CS, joined Microsoft shortly after graduation, traded his green card for H1-B visa to bring his Indian wife along, and that his first-born was a child with special needs. He briefly covered his pre-CEO leader roles in search and then in cloud.

    In the second part Nadella walked us through his first few years as the chief executive, and the renewal efforts he instituted. He inherited not only the the secular decline of the PC market and the strategically-misguided acquisition of Nokia he had previously voted against, but the widespread inertia, confusion and disappointment within Microsoft. His narratives centered around cultural changes to embracing empathy, innovation, personal passion, peer-learning, diversity…all fed into an overarching “growth mindset”. Of course sweeping change of corporate culture was easy said than done; middle management felt left out, “lack of growth mindset” became a trending catchword for blaming colleagues …

    Nadella also touched on his endeavors to convert major competitors like Google and Apple from enemies to partners.

    In the last part, which occupied just under half of the book, Nadella elaborated on his vision for Microsoft and technology industry in general. He presented his rationale for Microsoft’s strategic priorities: artificial intelligence, mixed-reality and quantum computing. He went on to exam the proper balance between data privacy/free speech and security/government surveillance, and urge the government around the world to appreciate and support technology as it continues to propel the global economic development.

    To be honest, A Microsoft employee might see this book as a more inspirational read. I nonetheless appreciated the abundance of insights it provided. I could use deeper discussions on some of the topics, along with more Microsoft inside stories, but the sitting CEO might be under restrictions for competitive and personal reasons.

    Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has staged one of the most successful revivals among the legacy technology behemoths. it was way late in the game of smartphone ecosystem, but pretty much caught up with Amazon in cloud offerings. In my opinion its captive Windows and office customers are its most valuable assets; if it focuses more on products addressing the consumers’ production rather than consumption needs, it will stand out from its peers and stay well-positioned in the technology market for the foreseeable future.

  • Bharath Ramakrishnan

    This is a story about how Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft sought to change Microsoft’s culture and rediscover it’s soul. It makes for interesting reading, especially with his emphasis on empathy being the bedrock of his thinking – trying to move public perception of Microsoft being a big uncaring giant falling behind competitors like Apple, to a more forward-looking organisation which invests in research, it’s people and it’s culture.

    The culture change which Satya talks about does come across a

    This is a story about how Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft sought to change Microsoft’s culture and rediscover it’s soul. It makes for interesting reading, especially with his emphasis on empathy being the bedrock of his thinking – trying to move public perception of Microsoft being a big uncaring giant falling behind competitors like Apple, to a more forward-looking organisation which invests in research, it’s people and it’s culture.

    The culture change which Satya talks about does come across as real and significant especially if you have a close view of the industry. He talks of his learnings of empathy from his personal life (with a child with special needs) and the progression of his thoughts and plans for Microsoft. While the theme of empathy seems to repeat too often through the pages, it is certainly an important one – especially for large organisations.

    The other theme is one of a collaborative ecosystem – working together with competitors where necessary. The discussion around privacy in the later part of the book (where Microsoft stood on the same side as Apple) makes for interesting reading. And there is the episode he describes where he walks onto the stage at an event holding an iPhone (he does soften the blow by saying most of the applications on the phone were from Microsoft!). Microsoft’s new approach to how it deals with it’s competitors, is now seeing it develop more and more solutions which run on iOS and Android.

    I wish there was more material on how he sees Artificial Intelligence will pervade our personal lives and businesses. While there is a bit of that, it is mostly public knowledge. It would have also been good to read more about his earlier years in Microsoft.

    Overall, a book I liked for it’s simplicity and especially the values it emphasises.

  • Sanjay

    Recommended for only Microsoft employees.

  • Du Nguyen

    Why does Microsoft exist? And why do I exist in this new role? That was the questions Nadella asked of himself when he was offered and appointed as the CEO of Microsoft - only the third CEO in its 40-year history. Why am I writing this book is another question that I think Nadella should have asked himself.

    Hit Refresh is according to Nadella, not a biography, nor is it a book solely about himself. It's not really a book about technology although that does feature a lot. Nor is it a book about th

    Why does Microsoft exist? And why do I exist in this new role? That was the questions Nadella asked of himself when he was offered and appointed as the CEO of Microsoft - only the third CEO in its 40-year history. Why am I writing this book is another question that I think Nadella should have asked himself.

    Hit Refresh is according to Nadella, not a biography, nor is it a book solely about himself. It's not really a book about technology although that does feature a lot. Nor is it a book about the challenges of leading one of the most valuable companies in the world. In fact I find it very strange as a book. Nadella wanted this book to be about the transformations happening in him, Microsoft and technology and he half-manages to write about these subjects.

    The first few chapters are about him. His upbringing in India where he grew up loving cricket but finding a second love in computers. His move to the US where he worked his way up through Microsoft. And then about how he became a father to three children. It's a very broad picture of his life and clearly he didn't really want to go into details, preferring to skirt through formative years and only mentioning specific events that would portray him in the culture that he wants to bring to Microsoft.

    Transformations in Microsoft is also dealt with swiftly and superficially. He acknowledges how Microsoft lost its leadership and have to catch up. This part of the book is partly super interesting material about the inner workings of Microsoft and some of the executive decisions you rarely hear of and part of evangelizing the Microsoft mission. Nadella writes a lot about how he brought a culture change to Microsoft after his appointment as CEO and how quickly it turned around things.

    Lastly transformation in technology. Nadella switches to long term thinking and writes how Microsoft is focusing on three particular technologies: mixed reality, AI and quantum computing. This is the part of the book I found most interesting, simply because it seems to be more genuine that the rest of the book. Nadella is clearly passionate about the changes in technologies and how it will affect society.

    Overall the book is not really that bad. It's not really that good either. Why it was written, I have no idea. On some level, it seems like a way for Nadella to legitimize his position as CEO as he writes about how his life seemingly brought about the right kind of qualities needed to lead Microsoft. On another level it's a bit of a sales pitch, trying to convince the world that a new Microsoft is here. And for employees it seems like it's written to convince them of the culture which can sometimes be seen as corporate kool aid. I didn't enjoy the parts about his life as it didn't seem like he really wanted to tell the reader about it. The Microsoft politics and executive decisions are really interesting but again, it's very superficial, only mentioning negativity whenever it's something that posterity would agree with Nadella's view (as in the Nokia acquisition perhaps wasn't the best idea). The part I really liked was the forward-looking chapters. This is where Nadella is at his most lucid. In fact, writing an entire book about that would probably have been better than this book.

    I would recommend reading the last 4 four chapters and treating it like a really long read on Nadella's vision and thoughts about the future. For Nadella's life and career at Microsoft, hopefully he'll get down to really writing a tell-all biography when he at some point decides to retire.

  • Caroline Berg

    Another reviewer says this is "Recommended for only Microsoft employees" but I disagree. This book isn't even for all Microsoft employees, for it leaves out a very large percentage us - the contractors. In fact, I wouldn't have read this book at all if my boss, who is a full-time employee and not a vendor contractor, hadn't picked up a number of these (the Employee Edition was given away on the Microsoft campus for free - but not to contractors) and dispersed them about the team so that everyone

    Another reviewer says this is "Recommended for only Microsoft employees" but I disagree. This book isn't even for all Microsoft employees, for it leaves out a very large percentage us - the contractors. In fact, I wouldn't have read this book at all if my boss, who is a full-time employee and not a vendor contractor, hadn't picked up a number of these (the Employee Edition was given away on the Microsoft campus for free - but not to contractors) and dispersed them about the team so that everyone could read them.

    I do not want to minimize the challenges Mr. Nadella faced and had the strength to write about in the book. He went through some tough times with an optimism that, quite frankly, I'm not sure I would have had in the same situations. That said, I believe it is very hard to change the culture of a corporation when a good number of its employees are treated like second-class citizens. And by no means is Microsoft the only tech company to do so; contractor culture is a problem at Amazon and Google and other tech giants within the industry.

    The book mentions wonderful events like the Hackathon, but it is like reading about a feast we can only look at through a window. Contractors can't participate in the Hackathon. It's not that we don't have the coding chops, or lack ideas; it's that we literally do not have access to even sign up for the event. And I understand the reasons behind some of it - NDA agreements, possible access to secrets, leaks could occur. We aren't "real" employees of Microsoft, we just happen to work there doing full-time jobs without the full-time benefits... which only hurts more when all the blue badges go off for a week to create and share awesome prototypes while the rest of us do business as usual because we are still expected to hit our metrics.

    To give credit where it is due, being a contractor at Microsoft has improved since 2015, but it still has a long way to go. It is admirable that Mr. Nadella is looking ahead to building economic growth around the world, but perhaps he should look a little closer to home.

  • Huda Yahya

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