Saturday, July 19, 2014

Microsoft gets some unsolicited writing advice

When I wrote about Microsoft laying off 18,000 employees (initial blog post here), I had an inkling that it would become one of the top tech stories of the week. I wasn't disappointed. As it turned out, everyone wanted to know why such an apparently huge, invulnerable company would resort to one of the largest mass layoffs in the sector's history. And many of them wanted me to weigh in on it.

To help explain the unexplainable, I did a ton of media, and the topic will figure front and centre on my weekly Clicked In segment on CTV News Channel. If you're in Canada, it's on live every Saturday night at 7:15 p.m. Eastern. If you're elsewhere, hit up this link for archived videos from CTV News.

I also wrote this piece for Yahoo Canada Finance: Why did Microsoft go so wrong on mobile?

Beyond the obvious story, though, there's a brewing sub-theme around the somewhat disjointed way the company chooses to communicate.* CEO Satya Nadella sent out this message to all employees on Thursday morning, Starting to Evolve Our Organization and Culture. Earlier this month, he penned this equally weighty email, Bold Ambition & Our Core.  Now, Microsoft is taking it on the chin from a number of sources in media over the dubious effectiveness and perceived insensitivity of its messaging. Here's a sample:
The good news: Microsoft's communication style is serving as the basis for corporate messaging best practice and could potentially teach companies in future how to raise the bar. The bad news: I doubt Microsoft's leadership wanted to serve as the what-not-to-do example.

In the meantime, I'm headed to the studio. See y'all at 7:15.

* Disclosure: I worked there once upon a time, and multi-thousand-word emails from on high were a regular thing. Decoding the between-the-lines messaging was as popular then as it apparently is now, and it seems the folks who pen them continue to really like sending long, winding messages to lots of people. I'm not sure whether bonus size correlates to email length.

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