Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Befuddled Brand: CEO Demonstrates Microsoft Shortcomings

3,187 Word Explanation of Brand Soul Exposes Inability To Move Beyond Cliché

Within the past week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sent a public email of some 3,187 words to company employees, with a Subject line of "Starting FY15 - Bold Ambition & Our Core"

Nadella set out to articulate his vision of the new Microsoft - to paint the future for 127,000 Microsoftians anxious to know where their new boss is leading them - saying his motivation for writing the memo was to "galvanize employees around what our soul is."

He fails miserably, committing a number of communications felonies, including the offense of tl;dr.

Others agree.

Jean-Louis Gassée writing in Quartz, says: 

Satya Nadella is an unusually intelligent man, a Mensa-caliber intellect, well-read, he quotes Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Why, then, does he repeatedly break basic storytelling rules?

One reason is Nadella's missive devolves into inane generalities such as:

"We have clarity in purpose to empower every individual and organization to do more and achieve more. We have the right capabilities to reinvent productivity and platforms for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. Now, we must build the right culture to take advantage of our huge opportunity. And culture change starts with one individual at a time."

Nadella's jargon addiction serves only to prompt questions in seeking the "clarity" he assumes is self-evident, among them: Why Microsoft rather than any number of competitive choices in the world? 

In communications, we understand simple is difficult. It's the reason our business thrives - offering the clean thinking needed to abandon the superfluous, distilling the complex into the easily understood - so our clients Own The Conversation® among market competitors.

As Gassée suggests, Satya Nadella would better serve Microsoft by internalizing the advice of French poet Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux:

Whatever is well conceived is clearly said,
And the words to say it flow with ease. 

Accomplish this, and Microsoft's new CEO may yet evolve. 

From complexity's fool, to simplicity's genius.

[Image Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith, Source: Quartz]

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