Your Memos Suck

Which of these work IM/ emails would you rather receive?


Today, we find out what we’re made of.

Our character will be tested, friendships and alliances will be formed as we work together to solve a shared problem.

There are no paper coffee cups in the building.

I have witnessed our fellow team members dispensing brew into their trembling hands, removing pens from the ceramic cups on their desks and desperately filling up. I think I saw Vijay from IT sucking coffee out of a Styrofoam bowl. There have been isolated cases of withdrawal, and some scattered convulsions, but the building has suffered no permanent damage. I want to assure you an order was submitted to our vendor yesterday, and we expect delivery of cups and other crucial coffee supplies within the next two hours. I call on all  employees to be brave and vigilant. These are the times when we need each other the most. Let us summon the fortitude that the universe endowed in all of us to remain strong, under control, and I urge you to work together to help see us through one of the darkest days we’ve experienced since… oh, last month at about this time. Thank you for your support.

To: Staff

Subject: Coffee Cups

We have been made aware that we are out of paper coffee cups. The vendor has been called.


The only staffers who wouldn’t prefer Memo #1 are those Miltonesque robots we all work with.  Possessing a personality akin to a dial tone, there’s nothing that reaches these paperweights.

The author of these kinds of internal communication products are creating (literally)viral memos that will be leaked, and The Big Boss won’t care.

I’d hire that snarky wordsmith in a second. Think what they could do with a quarterly earnings report!

What kind of workplace culture are you nurturing?

What are you doing to make your team feeling fully human?




John Scott is the National Online Learning Coordinator and a media history professor at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels clients and groups on the art of reinvention.

Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.   



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