Peanut Butter Manifesto

november 19, 2006

I thought over whether I should write about this or not. But, as you can see...I am. An interesting internal Yahoo! memo was forwarded to the outside world on Friday. It comes from a SVP named Brad Garlinghouse. The memo expresses a lot of the sentiments that I hold about the company -- and a lot of the sentiments that fellow Yahoos that I talk to also hold. We lack focus on what we want to do. We want to do everything for everyone. That is not bad thing if there was cooperation across groups, but there is not. We work in silos and that create duplicate efforts. We buy companies that do the same things as products that we have done internally -- that creates duplicate efforts and confuses the end-user. Think about it:

When it comes to these duplicate products, there should be an effort to: "We are held hostage by our analysis paralysis." That is very true. "[O]ur compensation systems don't align to our overall success. Weak performers that have been around for years are rewarded. And many of our top performers aren't adequately recognized for their efforts. As a result, the employees that we really need to stay (leaders, risk-takers, innovators, passionate) become discouraged and leave." This is also very true. All of this seems a bit familiar to me. That is because a lot of this I've seen at Sony. Analysis paralysis, bad performance rewards, lack of focus and business silos. The difference? The difference is that Yahoo! is a young and small company. It is not a huge old company like Sony where changes take a long while to implement. Yahoo! is a corporation, so changes are expected to take some time -- we are not a nimble start-up anymore. But, that being said, we are not a huge conglomrate like Sony. So, getting this boat on the right course will not be as hard as it is for Sony. I truly believe that Yahoo! can recover -- if we focus ourselves. Yahoo! has done it before and we can do it again. I love working for Yahoo!, and like Garlinghouse, I "bleed purple and yellow". I want this company to succeed. Now, I have to go track down Garlinghouse and talk to him about this peanut butter aversion he has. Peanut butter is yummy and quite tasty if you serve it the right way. Don't stop eating peanut butter, just get it spread correctly -- and it helps if you have a glass of milk with it!