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Financial Times: FT Poll on Greer memo updated 07 June 2007

Is this the worst motivational memo ever?

“Pipeliners All ! Many thanks to all of you for your contributions to this week’s Bi-Annual Challenge………..and what a Challenge it is going to be for all of us!” Thus begins an email from David Greer, the deputy chief executive officer of Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, the consortium running the Sakhalin 2 project, revealing that he despises “cowards” and urges his staff to “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way”. Is this the worst motivational email you’ve ever read? Do you have examples of similar memos – or worse?
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20 replies   Page: 1 2  All times are BST
Yes 104/51%
No 98/49%

20 replies   Page: 1 2  All times are BST     

Continued… From This is not Journalism
by S. Jasper   07 Jun 2007  12:03 PM
Addendum and on a more somber note: I am NOT from Shell (am a subcontractor that deals with building admin. and yes, carPets.) But have been a keen follower of the Sakhalin-2 saga. Stakeholder, environment, employee esp. the Russian workers & the benefits Russian people get from this project. My pun below was to point out the funny thing that if you send them (source) anything that has the company on it they’ll bite. Usually bordering on sensationalism and this is just one of them. I have high regard for FT. Please stop making mountains out of molehills. There are other newsworthy tales to tell. Thank you.

Motivational Memos
by Expat Bob   07 Jun 2007  08:11 AM
Would someone please post an internal motivational memo from the FT or its parent company, Pearson.

This is just for reference purposes in helping us to benchmark the worst memo, you understand, and definitely not to satisfy vulgar curiosity.

Not Newsworthy
by Talula   07 Jun 2007  07:26 AM
This is the problem when you jump into the wagon of peeping toms who read other people’s email. This was not for publication. A personal, confidential note even, to his team – the intended recipients, who probably knows him better than we do. A known Patton fan who interjects quotes and inspiration from him and other inspirational leaders.

If I have a penny for everyone who used Warhol’s “15 minutes” and Marie Antonette’s “let them eat cake”, without a peep of their names, I’d be rich! And most of them get no flack, and so should this.

Greer email
by RBL   07 Jun 2007  02:35 AM
What a pathetic email, and not even original at that. Another email/powerpoint manager. Funny, a company that manages with email and powerpoint makes headlines with two emails “sick and tired of lying” – Walter van de Vijver; and “pipeliners all … I hate cowards”. How fitting. I guess it’s easier to write emails than to replace reserves.

Man Management Innovator
by FR   07 Jun 2007  12:38 AM
I work for Dave Greer !I’ve been in this business for more than 20 years and he is the best Manager I’ve seen; believe me, I’ve been around for a while.
He is nothing like “Power Point Project Manager”, and his words for motivation are more then appropriate: ask the Pipelines Contractors how much money they make in Sakhalin II. It’s the first time in 20 years I feel my Job and efforts appreciated, and I don’t mind Dave’s Motivation, because is more than appropriate for us in Sakhalin II!

This is not Journalism
by S. Jasper   06 Jun 2007  06:52 PM
OMG! The author & website (not even worthy of a mention) where this was taken from, is so desperate, sour grapping, it would print anything! I’ll send them an email from my boss regarding the choice of color capetting and it can be entitled “astonishing leaked email from Shell exec motivating staff, whilst quoting Queer Eye for the Straight guy to move forward & choose swatches carefully.”

This is not Journalism. It is an internal email to staff not published literary requiring a bibliography. Scandalous – the content is not even “Enron.”

This was just plain stalking (as one reader aptly put it, reading other people’s mail) and bullying.


by Brian Finney   06 Jun 2007  04:58 PM
Greer is fine by me! Seems to be just what is needed in the situation.

Obviously, he is having to counteract negative body language and attitude by those less able to deliver ie the pen pushing desk jockeys, rather than the real doers that deliver.

Motivational memo
by Brian   06 Jun 2007  04:21 PM
A pretty good memo, with a lot of heart in it. It seems a little too easy for those with cosy lives to poke fun of someone who leads a team in hard circumstances. Go take a look, via the web, at what they’re building in Sakhalin.

Sympathy for Martin Lukes
by Michael Taite   06 Jun 2007  04:03 PM
Whether it is a bad memo or not, the FT should not be induldging in this gleeful, school-playground-style humiliation. Featuring the original memo is one thing (it was VERY funny), this puerile exercise quite another, especially as anyone who uses “world’s worst ever” in a title leaves him or herself open to similar accusations of dumbed- down linguistic laziness.

Been like this since the 80s…….
by A Scotsman   06 Jun 2007  04:03 PM
Having been in the oil/gas industry for over 30 years I can tell you this nonsense has been creeping in since the early 80s when oil companies started sending managers off on MBA and leadership type courses.

Sad to say that the quality of managers in the industry is now at an all time low and it will get considerably worse as the few good guys remaining retire.

Most are so fed up with the bullsh*t they are being fed from the board downwards they can’t wait to get out.

reading other people’s mail
by Guy   06 Jun 2007  03:52 PM
If the Shell exec didn’t send the email to you, you shouldn’t be reading it.

Aspiring people
by John Miles   06 Jun 2007  01:25 PM
VL certainly seems to have picked up David’s fine grasp of the English language as well as being aspired by him.

NOT Shell’s company song
by Billy Bob M.   06 Jun 2007  12:26 PM
Oh give it up Donovan. That song is NOT Shell’s company song but one of the many songs done by local Shell OUs as part of their internal team building efforts/contests. What fun-loving company hasn’t? (You can even read/hear the OU’s name on the song.) Done by your everyday Shell employee/s NOT by professional songwriters!

I’m a fan (so shoot me)
by Mary Ann B.   06 Jun 2007  12:08 PM
So he drew inspiration from Patton. Regardless, I find it inspirational. I, having worked for the company can attest to how much of a good leader he is. One of those larger-than-life charaters. Boundless energy, charismatic, with a firm hand, brutally frank, highly committed and puts the people’s welfare first. Raises the standards, elicits pride from your work. We rallied behind him to deliver world class projects. People loved him, people hated him. But even those who hated him could not deny he was the best man for the job. This memo shouldn’t be news. The successes and the benefits to be gained from the Sakhalin-2 Project should be.


by Mark Bisset   06 Jun 2007  10:29 AM
This memo is not even in fact original; here is part of a speech delivered by General Patton on 5th June 1944:

“Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle…When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.”

by John   06 Jun 2007  08:11 AM
This motivational e-mail is fine – you just delete it! When you actually have somebody telling you in person to ‘push the truck’ and ‘run to the roar’ then you know that things are bad.

Shell’s inspiring memo
by John Walkley   06 Jun 2007  07:32 AM
This sort of thing is typical of what happens when senior ‘managers’ who are out of touch with their workers decide to intervene and by-pass the chain of command.

Greer’s suggestion that there might be cowards in the team is crass. He may well be right but an email is not how to address the problem.

Field Marshall Haig’s Special Order of the day on 11th April 1918 ( )remains one of the best. It is clear, it states the facts, what needs to be done, what support is on the way, expresses realistic confidence and does not undermine subordinates. All the while he was making necessary management changes without damaging the whole. Above all it worked.

David’s motivation
by VL   06 Jun 2007  07:24 AM
One should have worked for David to know how great he is at motivating and aspiring people. I have never yet seen the leaders better than he is. He is proud of what he is doing and make people around him to feel the same.

Shell is also responsible for the worst motivational song!

by John Donovan   06 Jun 2007  12:47 AM
This is from the

“And now for something a little bit special. This is an award for Company Song So Awful I Was Positive It Was a Spoof. The outstanding winner in this category is Shell. Its song is called “Growing and Winning” and is set to “We Are the World”. “We have moved on, growing day by day/Sharing strengths, we practise what is best/We are all a part of Shell’s global family/Doing work aligned with everyone.” It is a haunting mixture of pyschobabble, sentimentality and business jargon. Have a listen yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Posted by John Donovan of the website

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1 Comment on “Financial Times: FT Poll on Greer memo updated 07 June 2007”

  1. #1 Jimmy Young
    on Jun 7th, 2007 at 10:42

    I think you should fire Ed Crooks for having the audacity to run this nonsense in the FT. He should work for Big Brother or The Sun instead of commenting from the side lines on (very good) inspiring, but private ,internal emails.The fact that he has to copy Greer’s emails is testimony to his own lack of literary prowess. Sadly, the world has more bad critics than good actors, Mr Crooks. Onwards Ever David ” General Patton” Greer !

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