No, I’m not talking about some schlocky movie that didn’t make it into theatres this summer. I’m talking about Brad Garlinghouse, a former Yahoo Senior Vice President who was hired this week to be a key part of the leadership team charged with spinning AOL out of Time Warner over the next year. For fans of memorable business communication, Garlinghouse is best known as the author, in 2006, of a memo to the top executives at Yahoo that came to be known as “the peanut butter manifesto.”
Among other points in the manifesto, Garlinghouse wrote:
“I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.
I hate peanut butter. We all should”
His memo, which was eventually featured in a front page article in the Wall Street Journal, was a clarion call for Yahoo to get its act together and recapture its leadership position in the Internet space. That hasn’t happened yet (and may never happen), but the memo set off a chain of events which led to a change in top leadership and the implementation of many of the strategies that Garlinghouse wrote about.
So, as Garlinghouse joins AOL to help lead what is a combination of a turnaround and a start-up, I thought it was worth taking a look at the peanut butter manifesto to see what we can learn about how leaders can influence their bosses through highly effective communications. Here are a few takeaways: