More great memos.
I spent some time a few months ago reading @sriramk’s list of great memos, and tweeted some of the ones I particularly enjoyed. Someone privately pointed out to me that the authors I’d tweeted were all men. I was disappointed that I hadn’t noticed that earlier myself, and decided to spend some time exploring for great memos written by a more diverse cohort of authors.
Before going too far, a quick note on how Sriram defined a memo in his collection:
I’m fascinated by interesting memos written for an internal audience - a company, a campaign or even for the President. Raw, not smoothened over for PR departments, they help shed light on how people really think inside institutions.
These are challenging to find. They typically seem to come into the public domain in one of three ways: through being really old, being part of some lawsuit/legal process or, sadly, being part of a hack.
So far in my searching I’ve found it difficult to find many exclusively internal memos, and to recognize that I’ll split the memos I found into three categories: internal memos which meet the spirit of Sriram’s original list, and external which tend to be memo-like commentary written for a public audience.
- Angela Ahrendts’ first email leading Apple retail
- Angela Ahrendts’ “The Days of Waiting in Line are Over” memo
- Marissa Mayer’s No-Work-From-Home memo – struggled to find memo in Marissa’s words anywhere
- Meg Whitman’s memo on Dell-EMC buyout
- Meg Whitman’s memo on HP layoffs in 2012
- Meg Whitman’s memo on open-sourcing webOS
- Patty McCord’s Culture Deck at Netflix
- Lynn Conway’s IBM-ACS: Reminiscences and Lessons Learned from a 1960’s Supercomputer Project – this is not strictly a memo, but it contains the same sort of candid thinking a memo would have contained, so I think it’s a good contribution to the list
- Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Reports from 1995 through 2019
- Padmasree Warrior’s memo on Cisco’s’ spin-in of Insieme
- Susan Wojcicki’s How to Break up the Silicon Valley Boys Club
- Susan Wojcicki’s response to Google Anti-Diversity memo
- Ursula Burn’s 2011 Shareholder Report
What I took away from this exercise was primarily that there are very few of these out there, which combines with the glass ceiling to mean there are even fewer written by women.
Send suggestions my way and I’ll add to the list with attribution.