Barely 10 days old, Stephen Elop’s “Hello there” memo has already become a classic example of how not to fire people. It is a 1,110-word document stiff with “appropriate financial envelopes”, “ramp-downs” and “ecosystems” which, towards the end, casually mentions that thousands of Microsoft jobs are to go. Rather than dish out the bad news directly, the executive vice-president takes refuge behind a curious subjunctive: “We plan that this would result in an estimated reduction of 12,500 . . . employees.”
Yet to focus on Mr Elop’s tin ear misses something. This memo deserves to become a set text for all executives interested in communication. It adds value by showcasing the delivery of business piffle that is perfectly aligned with current high-end management guff. It is a case study in how not to write, how not to think, and how not to lead a business.