Amazon meetings

I am really enjoying the “the everything store”, a book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon by Brad Stone.

(I’m reading it on my new iPad mini retina which is an amazing tablet btw)

Anyway back to the book.

I am about halfway through it. It’s quite interesting to sneak behind the curtain and learn about how the company was started and their culture.

One thing that was foreign to me before reading the book is how amazon employees conduct meetings. Basically there are no PowerPoint or keynote presentation. Everything is written out in a 6 page memo often with an appendix with supporting data. The memo doesn’t have charts or pictures. It has text.

The memo is presented at the beginning of the meeting (not in advance) and the meeting starts with everyone silently reading the memo for 15-20minutes. Then everyone has the same information and the meeting begins.

It’s an interesting model and approach to say the least. It forces the “presenter” to do the work in advance instead of winging it in the mtg. It forces the meeting participants to pay attention to the material.

I have seen modified versions of this at work. Our portfolio company Stack Exchange has board meetings without any slides. A multi page report is distributed to the board in advance covering all the key parts of the business. We all read it and then the board starts at “2nd base” if you will. It’s an opportunity to get to the heart of the matter much more efficiently during the actual meeting.

I don’t believe the amazon model is for everyone. I think it would have been a disaster during my time serving on tumblr board as well as other portfolio companies.

But there is something important worth considering for all of us that spend time sitting or standing in meetings everywhere.

Listen and learn before hijacking the meeting or jumping to conclusions. It’s a good reminder for us all.