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‘I read all my email’ – shock Gates admission

Bill forgets forgetting last year, and stiffs himself with responsibility for everything, apparently

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Months after his toe-curling, stonewalling video deposition, Bill Gates has inadvertently handed the Department of Justice a clear, concise and (oh dear) totally contradictory statement on what he does with his email. He reads it all, and acts on it. Excerpts from his latest book (sic), Business @ The Speed of Thought, are starting to show up in the public prints, and Gates writes (sic again): "There's no doubt that email flattens the hierarchical structure of an organisation. It encourages people to speak up. It encourages managers to listen." On its own, that's a good 'un. In his deposition Gates repeatedly said he couldn't remember receiving emails. After all he was a busy, important person who was copied thousands of emails every day. And a standard corporate get-out routine (by no means exclusive to Microsoft) has execs pointing out that crazed/illegal/unpopular suggestions were simply proposals made by low-level staff, and the company most certainly had no intention of taking them any further. Well, here Bill's saying he's encouraging staff of all levels to communicate with him, and that he'll listen to them. Here's another one: "I read all the email that employees send me, and I pass items on to people for action." Among all of the email that's been sent to Bill over the past four years or so there have been numerous dubious examples sent by subordinates, and copied to Gates, and from what he's saying he must have read and understood these. You might think it's possible that in some cases where the subordinate was proposing something excessive, or engaged in it, Bill would have just had a quiet word in their ear, and all would have been well. But no - the book also says companies should conduct all of their business via email, so if Bill had disapproved, there'd be a record of it, right? ®

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