AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong just sent out his end-of-year, go-get-em email that includes, among other things, details of exactly what "General Stan McChrystal and an elite team of Special Forces leadership" are consulting on the company's web strategy. The Washington Post's Erik Wemple got his hands on the memo and marked it up with some of his thoughts on what can only be described as a very militaristic-sounding document. At one point he even references AOL's evolving (some might say fledgling) "battle plan" and the need to be nimble after "first contact with the enemy." While it's full of many confusing sentences -- for example, "There is a formula to accomplish a mission: A+B+C=D. 'D' is the mission." -- the part about bringing in the former commander of American troops in Afghanistan who was ousted after that damning Rolling Stone article last year is just plain weird:
Over the last three months, we have put together a very detailed and cohesive plan for 2012. The work with the McChrystal Group is aimed at taking the plans, goals and metrics and doing two things. The first is creating a shared consciousness and purpose to what we are trying to accomplish -- in simple terms, a defined mission and values. The second is creating and executing a clear and consistent operating model that will allow all groups in the company to work toward accomplishing our mission. You will see the output of this work next week and immediately see the benefits.
We want to be surprised by AOL's odd choice of a consulting team, but then again, this is Tim "We Want to Be No. 3" Armstrong we're talking about. He's a salesman at heart, and you might be surprised how ready you are to lace up your boots and charge into battle by the end of the memo. Even Wemple admits, "Armstrong writes with way too much biz-school jargon, but his enthusiasm comes through, which is the most important point."