Active-Minded Meetings

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Writing at Inc., Carmine Gallo notes a couple of interesting ways Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos differs from practically everyone else I've seen run a meeting and, I suspect from how most other executives use data. First, Bezos bans PowerPoint at meetings:

Wherever this is, it isn't Amazon. (Image via Pexels.)
...According to Bezos, new executives are in for a culture shock in their first Amazon meetings. Instead of reading bullet points on a PowerPoint slide, everyone sits silently for about thirty minutes to read a "six-page memo that's narratively structured with real sentences, topic sentences, verbs and nouns."

After everyone's done reading, they discuss the topic. "It's so much better than the typical PowerPoint presentation for so many reasons," Bezos added. [links omitted]
And, later, we learn that Bezos uses anecdotes, like customer emails, to complement metrics:
... Amazon uses "a ton of metrics" to measure success. "I've noticed when the anecdotes and the metrics disagree, the anecdotes are usually right," he noted. "That's why it's so important to check that data with your intuition and instincts and you need to teach that to executives and junior executives."
Gallo notes that the method of communication is much more in line with how the mind works than the more fashionable misuse of presentation software or uncritical number crunching. He comments more on persuasion, briefly outlining the three "appeals" of Aristotle, but I found that Bezos's comparison of metric and anecdote reminiscent of another great philosopher's admonition. As Ayn Rand once advised, "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

It gives me pause that Bezos is unusual in this regard, but it at least Gallo has drawn it to our attention.

-- CAV


Jennifer Snow said...

Having worked for Amazon in the lowest of the low echelons (phone customer service), I have to say that they take their corporate ideals seriously. They're not always 100% perfect, but even as a work from home assistant peon, you can tell that your boss cares about helping you and THEIR boss supports them. The third day I was on the job I noticed that there was an error in one of the Help pages on the website, so I reported it to my boss.

It was fixed the next day.

Gus Van Horn said...


That's good to hear. I keep bumping into things about Jeff Bezos that I admire without even looking for them. I think I'll profit by being more deliberate about doing so.