Microsoft – can you write software better than you write English?

Most mission statements are mush. Read any corporation’s or (if you are having a really good day and want to make your self feel despondent) government department’s mission statement to realise how poorly the 26 letters of the alphabet can be organised.

Platitudes, jargon, euphemisms and plain junk writing infest many if not most of these dog piles.

Imagine this situation: a software company, perhaps once the greatest, needs to reinvent itself to adapt to changing hardware forms, such as tablets and smart phones. It reorganises itself to be able to compete and stay relevant.

It’s Microsoft, of course, once a stock market darling and innovator. These days it’s beginning to resemble a stagecoach about a decade after trains began running on time.

It wants to be seen as a devices and services company instead of just a software company. It needed to sum its new positioning up for shareholders.

Retiring CEO, Steve Balmer, issued a missive to the troops and shareholders, telling them where the company was about to head.

With all its resources couldn’t Microsoft have afforded someone whose first language is English, not gibberish?

How’s this to rivet us all and make us suck in a lung-full of air in awe at this clever company’s intention to retain (recaputure) relevance?

“Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.”

“Going forward”? Going forward is the equivalent of ‘Um’, ‘Like’, ‘You know’, ‘So’. It’s superfluous; dross; drivel.

“our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses”

Was the writer of this being paid by the word-count? How about:

We will create indispensable, related devices and services for everyone.

“that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most”

How about just dispensing with the whole sentence?:

I don’t know about Microsoft’s employees but the ‘activities that I value most’ are breathing, sex, drinking beer, being with my family and gardening, not necessarily in that order but certainly all before using Microsoft’s products. Do these guys ever get out in the sunshine?

A mission statement should describe what a company or organisation does and how it goes about it. A vision, for those who are paralysed without one to guide them, might be about what the company aspires to.

Here’s one done really well, from an Australian health support group;

Mission: care.
Vision: Cure.

If Microsoft doesn’t know what it is, where it’s heading and how it will get there and can’t sum it up in a paragraph without resorting to poverty-stricken English then it is doomed. It has become IBM – the bureaucratic behemoth that crippled itself in the eighties and allowed Microsoft to prosper.

Some bright kid in a garage somewhere, but soon to enter the workforce,  is going to mature and slay Microsoft unless it wakes up, within 10 years.