The XBone has not had a very smooth ride at all since it was announced. At the time of its announcement, a lot of features and complications were announced and it left the masses with a huge “Huh?!” face. In the time between that original announcement and the E3 press event, the waters were muddied even more and people were even more confused. At E3, that confusion was topped with a $500 cherry. And all went to pieces for Microsoft.
After Sony blasted them and the press declared the XBone DOA, Microsoft quickly did an about face and returned to the status quo and all was fine in the world. At least that is what Microsoft hopes.
But what did Microsoft learn from all this? What lesson was there to be had from this massive PR disaster? According to Microsoft’s chief product officer Marc Whitten, the lesson is that they didn’t talk enough.
I think it’s pretty simple. We’ve got to just talk more, get people understanding what our system is. The thing that’s really gratifying is that people are excited about the types of features that are possible, and it’s sort of shame on us that we haven’t done as good of a job as we can to make people feel like that’s where we’re headed.
The number one thing I want to do is I want to get the product out, because people are going to use it and obviously a lot of this is more evident, but certainly what I want to do right is now is talk more about how we thought about these features. How we thought about how Xbox Live works, how digital works.
I am sure that is what Microsoft hopes people will think was the problem. That they just didn’t talk enough. But in the real world, the problem is a far deeper, yet subtly simpler one. They talked plenty. They just didn’t communicate well.
There is a hug difference between talking and communicating. When you talk, words come out of your mouth, whether they make sense or not doesn’t matter. Talking is a one way street. Words flow in one direction. Communication, on the other hand, is a two way process. It takes time, skill and a willingness to listen to the person or persons you are communicating with. You say something, you listen for a response, you ask questions of your listener, you clarify miscommunications. Microsoft didn’t do any of that.
What Microsoft did was allow far too many people talk without any kind of oversight or collaboration. We ended up with confusing and contradictory PR statements and everyone came out hurting because of it. Microsoft hurt because people had no idea what the XBone was. The press hurt because they couldn’t report clear and accurate information. The gamers hurt because they were left more confused the more Microsoft PR talked.
So, no, Whitten, your problem is not that you didn’t talk enough. You problem is that you didn’t communicate enough. Big difference. You would be wise to learn it.