Microsoft and Stack Ranking ➝

John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine on July 3, 2012:

In a nutshell, employees are ranked on a zero to four scale, four being the best. They rank each other and their bosses. For all practical purposes, the person with the lowest average score gets fired.

Over time, because people at Microsoft are recruited for their brainpower, the employees have managed to devote all their time to gaming the system rather than doing any real work. The company has been in the tank insofar as creativity is concerned for more than a decade because the stack ranking is arbitrary. If you are about to shine as a creative thinker, you get low rankings from your peers because you would otherwise cause them to receive lower scores.

Dvorak has been complaining about stack ranking for quite some time. It’s a terrible practice that discourages creative work and encourages yes-men and system gaming. I have to wonder where Microsoft would be if they decided against employing the practice.