Everybody’s working for the weekend

Do you work in an office? Do you work for a large company? Does your company have a mission statement, core values, or a bold declaration of what principles that it holds dear?


These two clips are brilliant – and the first, more than the second, is a really interesting artifact. First, it shows that Microsoft, hated by Linux geeks and Mac fans the world over as the evil empire, has a sense of humor. Or at least, the Values Team has a sense of humor, and the latitude to have something like this made.


The second reason this is interesting is that it makes a mockery of the notion that a company has values. Ricky Gervais' character, despite being genuinely hilarious, is a standard trope in corporate training films – the Goofus, brought in as an example of how not do do things. Even Conan O'Brien has played this part.

Usually, though, there is a corresponding Gallant character to show us the way. Not in this case - Stephen Merchant's character is distressed by what has been said, but we're not given very many examples of what these values should mean to each and every one of us.

I wonder. Are these videos just played as ice-breakers, followed by 40 minutes of more standard corporate training? Is Microsoft guerrilla marketing to their own employees, hoping that grabbing their attention will be enough to get some message across?

The first video seems to almost be an acknowledgment that, although we have yearly training and a whole team dedicated to managing them, corporate values are just expensive common sense. Every company is different, obviously, but if you read the news everyday, you're bound to get the impression that if many companies were actually (not just legally) people, they would be sociopaths with multiple personality disorder. They have Core Values too. I wonder if having values and communicating them to your employees has any correlation with ethical behavior, motivation, or success.

How does a values team measure their accomplishments? Do they get bonuses every year the CEO doesn't pull an Enron? Do they get bad reviews when the guy on the loading doc ships his personal items on the company account?

This is not to say that all this is worthless. It would be a really, really interesting research project to figure out how to even measure efficacy, and then see if they are effective. A brief look at the literature suggests it's still a big question...

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