Different dress – Same legs…

As some of you may have read in various forums or in other blog posts, Microsoft decided to disband the global team of Customer Success Managers in late January. I have added a few links at the bottom of this post to pay it forward to those who took the time to reflect, lament, or comment on the decision. I think I speak for most – if not all – of the CSMs when I say that the outpour have really touched us all and we choose to take this as a testament to the impact and value we have brought to the organisations we have worked with around the world. Thank you.

A few things that has become very apparent in the process is how strongly the CSM team was associated with the Yammer brand where we in reality have been covering all of Office 365 for the last 18 months. I’m not trying to distance myself from Yammer – far from it. I carry the blue Y with pride and I already know that joining the awesome team that was the Customer Success Managers (aka. The Unicorns) has been a life-changing experience and probably in more ways than I know myself 🙂

Onwards and upwards!
So where next? The CSM team is now off in all directions and in many ways this is the end of an era. Some have started their own business, some are still looking for the next big thing, and some are continuing their journey internally in Microsoft. Inspired by Simon Terry’s blogpost about the importance of working out loud through a career transition, I have decided to share my journey and my thinking process.

Looking at the groups mentioned above, I belong to the latter group. I’ve spent the better part of February to decide on my future direction and it became clear to me quite quickly that I wasn’t necessarily done with Microsoft – the question was if Microsoft was done with me. The next question was about my own direction.

I am deliberately talking about a direction and not a career path as i have spent the last 15 years in emergent job roles just behind the leading edge of online and productivity solutions. The result has been that the career paths have not yet bene laid so in stead I have tried to maintain a general direction which I normally try to reset after the first couple of months in a new role. Did I do this when joining Microsoft? No. Well…. Sort of. I said to myself: “Let’s see where this takes me”. Needless to say this is a rather crappy “direction” when someone decides that this is the end of the line…!

Inspired by the Responsice Organisation Discssion Scales (RODS) I worked out four dimensions that I know matters to me when it comes to my professional career. The RODS – short version – is a tool with no right or wrong. It is meant as a discussion starter around current state vs. future state in organisations. In other words, very similar to the situation I was in. I kept focus on the intrinsic motivators as the extrinsic motivators are a little more binary, and to some extent less important. The dimensions I used are shown below – where blue is the current state (ie. how I evaluated my previous role) and green is the future state:

Career RODS

The conclusion was that I (still, in spite of many days travelling) prefers to have a global role and that I would like to continue to work with the people side of things and not move towards the technology side of things. On the Product vs. Process dimension, it became clear to me that I have been working in product centric roles for the last 5+ years and in reality I care much more about processes, so this is an area where I needed to reassess my target. The last dimension is about going off and doing something on my own. It is something that I probably need to do at some point, but after careful deliberation I decided that this is not now and moving to a part of MSFT that is more ‘integrated’ will be a great learning experience in it’s own right.

Next steps
So, Martin, where did this ultimately lead? I’m happy to say that it has turned out that Microsoft was not done with me! I have re-opened the Microsoft book to write the next chapter as a part of Microsoft Services Adoption & Change Management Global Practice where I am joining as an ACM Consultant. The role fits the bill based as outlined above and I see great opportunity as there is still a lot of exciting stuff going on inside Microsoft and I get to continue to hone my skills in the Change Management discipline as well as to help others embrace the new ways of working enabled by the Digital Workplace.

As one of my new team mates eloquently put it: “Most of Microsoft takes care of technology, we take care of the people” and as I see it, this is in many ways a natural extension of the CSM role, hence the header: Different dress, same legs….


….and finally – as mentioned in the beginning – a few links to some of the great posts written in the wake of the O365 CSM Team being disbanded. Thank you once again.

Rhiannan Howell – Thank you O365 Customer Success Managers – you’ve changed my life.

Amy Dolzine – On community. On, community!

Jonathan Anthony – Everyone, Anytime, Everything, Anything*

Benjamin Elias – Enterprise Social, Step Up

Christian Buckley – Reports of Yammer’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Loryan Strant – Microsoft axes its Yammer / Office 365 CSMs: A change in strategy or simple cost cutting?


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