Corporate Writing Doesn’t Need to be Bad Writing

George Saunders is a great writer, but we should take his stories of corporate culture as cautionary tales, not something to which we aspire.

Satya Nadella isn’t a household name, but when he did his best Jerry Maguire impression last week— writing a long missive and sending it to everyone in his company—he set a certain, nerdy corner of the internet astir. (That’s the kind of thing that happens when the memo implies business decisions that would require big layoffs and the guy writing it is CEO of Microsoft.)

However, as you might expect from the tech company that is most closely associated with the stereotypes of corporate America, the language he used to try to get people excited for whatever his vision for the future of their company is left a lot to be desired.

According to former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gasse, it didn’t need to be that way. Gasse’s response is more than just a(n appropriately) concise prescription for how Nadella’s language could have been improved—it’s also a quick look at some of the root causes of poor communication in corporate speak. (Spoiler alert: He thinks muddled language is often the result of muddled thought.)

It’s interesting, it’s well-worth a read, and it just may help keep us from living out a George Saunders story in real life. Read it on Monday Note.



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