Follow us:

Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Janet I. Tu.

April 7, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Meet Ben Gilbert, the high-energy leader of The Garage, Microsoft’s grassroots innovation hub

[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times April 7, 2014.]

Ben Gilbert, who runs The Garage, sits in front of an LED wall built by Mike Matsel in the facility for less than $700. (Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Ben Gilbert, who runs The Garage, sits in front of an LED wall built by Mike Matsel in the facility for less than $700. (Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

It doesn’t take much to get Ben Gilbert enthused.

Mention backpacking, and he’ll tell you about being an Eagle Scout and his hiking trips through Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.

Ask him about hobbies and he’ll get into his past involvement in theater and swing choir, and how the hip-hop dance skills he learned came in handy at weddings.

But what gets Gilbert most excited is when the talk turns to innovation, problem solving, startups and new business ideas.

His eyes get brighter. His words come even faster. He springs to his feet — clad, more often than not, in Vibram toe shoes — as though his excitement simply can’t be contained.

Which makes Gilbert a natural for his current role leading The Garage, Microsoft’s 5-year-old incubator for employees’ passion projects.

The Garage, and Gilbert’s approach to running it, is one way a more “collaborative” Microsoft is playing out as the company transitions from software giant into a devices-and-services company. Trying to foster a more collaborative company culture, as well as one that’s more agile and innovative, lies at the heart of a company reorganization former CEO Steve Ballmer began last July and that new CEO Satya Nadella is continuing.

The Garage is both a physical space — actually, two physical spaces — on Microsoft’s campus and a community that spans several countries and many interests.

From its beginnings as a lab for Microsoft Office folks to experiment with innovative ideas, The Garage has become a companywide employee effort, where engineers, designers, hardware tinkerers and others from many different teams gather to work on their own or with others on pet projects, some of which could potentially benefit the company.

[Continue reading the story here.]

| More in Microsoft | Topics: ben gilbert, garage, re-engineering microsoft's culture


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►