The new Scott McNealy: all sweetness and light

In today’s Financial Times, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy raises the banner of the sharing, caring corporation (subscribers only).

Share: blend internal assets with those outside. That means sharing things you value, such as intellectual property, best practices, employee time and even your thoughts, with tools such as blogs, podcasts and wikis (communal web pages). In doing so you lower barriers to entry and encourage people to notice and take an interest in your business.

Build trust and foster communities: adopt a transparent and shared approach to business. New business opportunities will arise that you, the trusted player, will be in the best position to take advantage of.

Engage and collaborate: seize opportunities to listen to and interact with the communities you create. Solicit input and recommendations. Respond to requests. Close the gap among your critical audiences, influencers and decision-makers across your organisation and you will be rewarded.

Shifting your business to take advantage of the sharing strategy is not easy and will not happen overnight. That said, the communities you seek to develop will recognise your efforts and help you if you are straightforward with them. Instinctively, they will trust your intentions and respond, guiding your organisation through the process.

I like and approve his approach (and its emphasis on the importance of trust echoes my discussion with Edelman yesterday). What strikes me, however, is how different this Scott McNealy is from the Scott McNealy who so pugnaciously strode the Davos stage in the boom years of the late ’90s. It would have been hard to find a more aggressive, take-no-prisoners, caustic character (Steve Ballmer never came to Davos) than that old McNealy.

Corporate circumstances change, and certainly the global environment changes. It’s good to see that some top executives can change as well.

4 thoughts on “The new Scott McNealy: all sweetness and light

  1. Hughes Views

    Is it really true, do you think, that “some top executives can change as well” or are most of them perhaps rather good at learning to whistle new songs more in tune with the zeitgeist?

    The humorous writer Joe Queenan suggests that that is something at which baby-boomers (one of his current obsessions) excel.

  2. Lance Knobel

    I had my sunny disposition in operation this morning when I wrote it. I hope McNealy has changed. Certainly the playground-level tilts between him and Microsoft a few years ago were occasionally amusing, but certainly unedifiying and childish.

    Sun does seem to be walking McNealy’s current talk. So it’s not just words. I do, however, hope he has retained his quick wit — certainly not in evidence in the rather boring, corporate-speak FT piece.

    It is, however, an open question whether Sun’s openness is a function of philosophical shift or trying to navigate a new path in a world where the company’s very existence has been threatened by the rise of open source and commodity box servers.


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