Building Trust Among Partners
For the rest of the July 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
Mark Albrecht claims that a person can do some deep thinking while sitting absolutely still in a tree for five hours at a time.
He ought to know. Every year Albrecht, group manager of ISV community for Microsoft's Great Plains Business Solutions group, goes on several hunting trips, which require him to perch motionless in a tree for hours.
These meditative outings are in stark contrast to Albrecht's busy job, where he oversees a team of 17 and is responsible for more than 460 independent software vendor (ISV) partners.
Albrecht says that trust is the most fundamental element in relationships with other vendors. "This is not something built overnight," he says. "This is long term and needs to be built over time. We are attempting to create win-win relationships and understand the businesses of our partners and how we can work together. This is not about Microsoft telling them what to do, but about partners telling us how they want to work with us."
Because ISV relationships can last anywhere from six to 10 years or more, it is important to focus on integrity and to put your ego aside, Albrecht says.
The affable Albrecht claims that he is not a schmoozer, but a regular guy and a straight shooter. This might be attributed to Albrecht's North Dakota roots. Based in Fargo, Albrecht joined Great Plains Software in 1988 as a support engineer. He left after four years to go back to his alma mater, North Dakota State University. After graduation he stayed on at the university and served as a director, managing the technology center and university bookstore. Albrecht returned to Great Plains in 1998 as a business development manager for strategic accounts. Microsoft purchased Great Plains in December 2000.
Albrecht says that he has learned and grown as a manager by getting in the trenches. He likes to get his hands dirty, which is why weekend tinkering with his four cars is a joy for him.
Referring to his management style as approachable, he claims that workers can learn from the failures as well as the successes. "I don't get frustrated about people making mistakes," Albrecht says. "But the mistakes we make twice are the ones that we have to worry about."
He claims he is able to be very flexible because he overprepares and prioritizes everything. That means he is prepared for change as well.
Sounds like he is a Boy Scout, but, in fact, he was never a member of that group nor any other. But what about working for Team Microsoft, where business has often been likened to religion? "It's been my experience that Microsoft is made up of smart, aggressive individuals who are also good at working together," he says.
It seems that Albrecht is a driven self-starter who also works well in a team atmosphere. Guess those tree-top meditations have paid off.
Name: Mark Albrecht
Title: Group manager ISV Community, Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions, Microsoft Corp.
Education: Bachelor's degree and MBA, North Dakota State University
Most Bizarre job: Chef at a country club, clerk in a computer store, and fast food worker, all in one summer
Latest book read: All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft, by Julie Bick
Favorite sport: Hunting
HOBBY: Tinkering with automobiles