The Six Page Narrative

The Six Page Narrative

We previously covered some of the quirks in The Everything Store of Jeff Bezos in our article about his Jeffisms. Jeff Bezos hates PowerPoint and doesn’t read memos in advance but prefers the 6 page narrative. The six page narrative replaces Powerpoint at Amazon.

Jeff Bezos Playing Chess

In the book The Everything Store, Brad Stone quotes Jeff Bezos:

“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a PowerPoint presentation, some type of slide show.  In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points.  This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience.  And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a 6 page narrative memo.”

Structured around the 6 page narrative… Why?

“When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, complete paragraphs it forces a deeper clarity.”

Bezos preferred that employees sketched out their ideas like a dissertation laying out the context or question, approaches to answer the question and various conclusions, how this attempt varied from previous approaches, and then “now what?”, that is, what was in it for the customer and the company and how does the answer to the question enable innovation for the customer.

This was the gist of the six page narrative. Jeff Bezos did not read things in advance and he wanted a deep enough understanding of a problem which 6 pages provided.

“Time doesn’t come from nowhere. This way you know everyone has the time. The author gets the nice warm feeling of seeing their hard work being read.”

Bezos wasn’t alone in his hatred of Powerpoint so did Steve Jobs

“I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs later recalled. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”