Microsoft Needs Innovator-in-Chief

Steve Ballmer

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s looming retirement sets the stage for a successor who can infuse sorely needed innovation into the once-dominant software maker.

The company has suffered in recent years from its inability to move quickly and come up with exciting new products. Its lumbering pace stands in sharp contrast to the speed with which companies such as Facebook and Google update their services.

“The tech industry, more than any other, is one full of fast change and new trends. Microsoft just became very, very corporate,” says Nigel Nicholson, professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School and author of The ‘I’ of Leadership – Strategies for Seeing, Being and Doing. “Microsoft is now looking like the fat kid on the block. You need (to be) slim, fast, agile” in order to innovate.

The list of executives whose names have been floated for the top job is long, including the likes of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Others mentioned include Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson and Hewlett-Packard COO Bill Veghte.

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