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September 10, 2005

Emailing Executives vs. Blogging

Discussing my Open Letter to Jeff Raikes, a commenter (we'll call him "Bob") asked "couldn't this have been sent to Jeff internally vs a public forum? Isn't Jeff just as focused on doing the right thing for the company and its customers? If so, shouldn't he be receptive to creative suggestions such as this one?"

My thoughts on this:

  1. I'm 100% sure that if I had emailed Jeff Raikes internally he would have either responded, or forwarded the email to someone else to respond. That's the Microsoft culture. Heck, Steve Ballmer responded to email I sent him when I wasn't even working at Microsoft.
  2. When Raikes or someone in his organization responded to me, it would have been internal to Microsoft, therefore covered by NDA, and so he might have been able to talk about future plans or sales data or other non-public information--which would have been a more interesting response from my personal point of view.
  3. But, I wanted the message to be seen by people who worked on Office besides Raikes. Yes, I could have cc'ed the whole Office team, but that is frowned upon at Microsoft. Anyway I don't know who-all would be interested in it, so I wouldn't know who to include on the email. This way people can forward around a link to the post and still have an internal discussion about it.
  4. I also wanted people outside Microsoft to see the letter. If the letter originated as an internal Microsoft email, then technically nobody would be allowed to quote it publicly. Starting with a blog post means the original letter is public, and at least some of the discussion is public. Plus, it shows that Microsoft is open to internal debate, which is one of the greatest benefits of employee blogging.
  5. The downside of blogging it of course is that Raikes and crew can completely ignore it. If I sent direct email, they would need to respond in some way.
  6. But, the response would likely have been "Thanks for the input, we'll take it under consideration." That's not what I'm after. I don't just want credit for a suggestion; I want this to happen. For it to happen it can't just be me pushing for it. It has to be lots of people inside and outside Microsoft. Posting it on my blog increases the risk that it will be completely ignored, but it also increases the potential reward if it actually inspires Microsoft to change (or at least have a serious debate about it).

So that's why I posted it publicly. I'm trying to leverage the blogosphere to effect a change. Hasn't happened yet, but I'm still hopeful. So all you out there: if you like this idea, please link, discuss, forward, comment. Thank you.

Posted by AdamBa at September 10, 2005 10:23 AM

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Do you have any way of knowing if Jeff or anyone else in a position to do anything actually read it? I've been thinking about a letter to an exec at MSFT (let's call him 'Bill') and all of a sudden (your fault) I am wondering if writing it in my blog would be a good idea. But I need 'Bill' to see it for it to do any good at all.

Posted by: Alfred Thompson at September 10, 2005 01:53 PM

I doubt Jeff or anybody has read it yet, but who knows.

In your case, it's not either-or. You can send it in email AND blog it. Or blog it and email a link. If you really need 'Bill' to read it, then send email. In my case I didn't necessarily need Jeff to see it as much as a bunch of people who can influence Jeff.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at September 10, 2005 07:04 PM