Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The subject who is truly loyal...will be obscure

The recent post about the departure of Edward Greenspon as editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail and his replacement by John Stackhouse was based on a memorandum by publisher Phillip Crawley. We didn't bother to comment at the time on the turgid, jargon-laden, confusing, burying-the-lede nature of the memo; we just extracted the facts.

But David Olive, over at The Toronto Star makes a case for why CEOs feel the need to be obscurantist in such cases.
CEOs are rightly chided for jargon, and Crawley's May 25 internal memo gives us a beaut with its "reimagination-inspired teamwork." But here's the deal: If you can avoid demoralizing staff by withholding fears and facts that would sap their strength, you do so unless your sense of morality says they do need that information....

And, jeez, when you write anything you know will be leaked before you hit the send button, you don't disclose your competitive strategy. You merely allude to it, incomprehensibly. The essence of competition is that you keep your rivals guessing about your new products under wraps, the industry stars you hope to recruit, and planned acquistions that will embellish your key strengths.

This desire to not demoralize the troops is the mirror opposite of Napoleon's observation that it was good to shoot a general once in a while "pour encourager les autres".


Blogger Andrew Clark said...

It was not Napoleon who said "pour encourager les autres" but Voltaire writing in his philosophical novel "Candide."

It was in reference to the 1757 execution of British Admiral Byng.

But the sentiment is the same.

4:10 pm  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

Thanks for correcting the record!

4:35 pm  

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