Over the last five years or so, I’ve had the chance to work on lots of different types of communication both inside and outside of Microsoft. It’s been a brilliant journey, watching how communications, when done well, can affect the culture of a company so positively. Often I’m asked what lessons I have learned on this journey. One of them I would say for sure is the power of visual communications – in particular photography. Yet, the most important lesson I think I (and others) have learned is the power of relentless repetition.
When communicating, either in written form or especially verbally, it can become tiring very quickly to repeat yourself. You hear or read yourself saying the same thing over and over and begin to assume that everyone has heard what you have said once you have said it more than ten times. Of course, there is merit in saying something new or unique but there are also times when repetition is your friend. Where I have seen it work powerfully has been with our mission statement at Microsoft and the language we use around culture. These things get a lot of cynical sideways glances when you first see them and though we worked hard to come up with our mission statement – “to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more” – there was inevitably some cynicism. People asked how long it’d last, they asked why those words were chosen and not others, they asked if it was as a good as the original mission statement (I think it’s better). I believe one of the big things that chipped away at that cynicism was relentless repetition – in particular by our CEO, Satya Nadella. Over 5 years into his tenure as CEO, the mission statement is still here and by my count, I’d guess I have seen Satya speak well over 300 times at different events, internally and externally. He has started with the mission statement at every single one of them. That’s a hard thing to do – and incredibly powerful. It makes things stick. It ensures people know you believe in those words.
Relentless repetition. Relentless. Repetition.
By Steve Clayton – Chief Storyteller for Microsoft