Robbie Bach – The Xbox story, lessons in strategy

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Robbie Bach joined Microsoft in 1988 and over the next 22 years worked in various marketing, general management and business leadership roles. Beginning in 1999, as Chief Xbox Officer, he led the creation and development of the highly successful Xbox video game business.

Robbie Bach Keynote speaker

Now in his new role as a “Civic Engineer,” Robbie believes we all have a responsibility to engage on civic issues and dedicates his time and energy to providing strategies, creative ideas, and consulting to organizations who are driving positive change in our communities.

He speaks to corporate, academic and civic groups across the country and in 2015 completed his first book, Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal.

During his time at Microsoft, Robbie began in product marketing and then worked at the European Headquarters in Paris, France as the company’s first American ex-patriate.

He subsequently played an important role as a marketing leader in the successful launch and expansion of the Microsoft Office business.

He then led the Xbox team from its startup phase all the way through to the launch of the award winning Xbox 360 console and the highly popular online gaming service, Xbox Live.

He was ultimately responsible for Microsoft’s gaming, music, video, phone, and retail sales businesses when he retired from Microsoft in 2010 as the President of the Entertainment and Devices Division.

Robbie Bach Keynote speaker


While he is available to speak on a broad range of business and civic topics, his current focus is on the following subjects:


The Xbox saga – from garage-shop inception, through numerous crises and challenges, to ultimate business success – is a many faceted tale with several captivating story lines.

Speaking from the viewpoint of the Chief Xbox Officer, Robbie tells the story of a strategic process that brought together a disparate group of talented individuals into a powerful team that applied Intrapreneurship principles to build a successful consumer business within the larger Microsoft structure.


Based on his first book, Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal and many of his blog posts, this speech explores the development of a strategic process that enables all of us to be “civic engineers.”

He explains how business principles can be used to influence, shape, and change the course of our local, state, and federal organizations in a more positive direction.

Robbie’s approach is neither Democratic nor Republican; instead it takes a common sense view of what is in the best interests of our citizens and paints a picture that is independent of most orthodoxy and doctrine.


Robbie has been in leadership positions his entire life, including in sports, business, and charitable organizations.

He understands the opportunities, challenges, and loneliness of being the final decision-maker on issues large and small, and speaks about both successes and failures in directing teams.

Based on personal and historical examples, he has developed a set of principles that help leaders gain the respect and support of their teams, make better decisions, and improve the health of the organization.


Formed during his experiences at Microsoft and his on-going board work with corporate and non-profit organizations, Robbie has developed the 3P Framework which he applies to problems in business, government, and personal life.


So what is Purpose and why is it so important?

Every great, enduring strategy has a strong foundation – a touchstone that forms the core strategic direction for the group or organization.

The purpose is a short, declarative statement that answers the questions “why do we exist as an organization?” and “what is it we are creating as a company?”

As the architectural basis for the strategy, an organization’s purpose should remain constant for a long period of time, requiring great thought and foresight in creating the statement itself.

It has to be aspirational enough to stand the test of time and yet realistic enough for people to believe it can be achieved.

Although not immutable, purpose statements are meant to be long-lived directional beacons which change rarely and only then based on careful consideration.

In this speech, he explores the framework, provides relevant stories and applications, and describes how any leader or business can use this process to plan for success.

He demonstrates how focusing on Purpose, Principles, and Priorities provides a simple, yet effective rubric to attack even the most complex problems.


If purpose is the foundation for a strategy, principles are the frame of the house that create the shape and scope of the endeavor.

Put another way, principles are the guard rails that ensure that organizations stay on course both strategically and morally, avoiding the inevitable distractions and marketplace noise that often mislead or confuse.

Importantly, they enable employees to make real tradeoffs and decisions ensuring that the correct tactics are pursued and prioritized properly.

These statements reveal up to five key beliefs about important strategy components such as customers, employees, and financial performance.

They also codify certain elements of organizational culture that are important to the future success of the group.

Principles are not specific programs or initiatives but rather are higher level concepts that endure for many years, in most cases changing only with a change in purpose.


With a solid foundation and support structure provided by purpose and principles, an organization or leader can establish a set of priorities that define the layout of the rest of the strategy building.

Priorities define the five (and no more than five) key initiatives and investments that will drive an organization or individual over the next 1-3 years. These five priorities are those areas that MUST be resourced and managed successfully – while other tactical and operational programs coexist or support these priorities, any other major initiatives are either postponed or ignored altogether.

The leadership team uses these priorities to create a specific annual plan with matching measurable deliverables and objectives.

At the end of each year (or some other appropriate period), the team evaluates their progress against the priorities, makes any adjustments, and creates the plan for the coming period.

In this way, the priorities portion of the strategic plan incorporates the flexibility necessary to stay current with competitive and market conditions as well as the performance of the team.
It also forms the bridge from long-range strategic planning to annual operating budgets and plans.

Robbie Bach Keynote speaker


Once in a while you meet someone who leaves an impression with you that will last a lifetime.
From his opening remarks to the question and answer period, Robbie engaged the audience until we had to insist that they stop asking questions so we could move on.
Robbie speaks with passion, humor, and humility about his personal and professional experiences in a way that motivates and challenges the audience.
He seamlessly weaved his 3P Framework strategy into our company’s Purpose, Principles, and Priorities in a way that left us talking about his impact…long after the conference.
I highly recommend Robbie as a motivational speaker and an inspiring person wanting to make a true difference.

Chris Stiles, President, Skyhawks Sports Academy

Robbie Bach provided an insightful and educational look into the benefits of having a strategy and understanding your objectives up front through his experience at Microsoft.
As an added bonus, his style was engaging and entertaining.
I believe the hundreds in attendance were both pleased with and benefitted from Robbie’s remarks.

John W. Mitchell
, President and CEO, IPC – Association Connecting Electronics Industries
Robbie Bach Keynote speaker