By Matt Stone
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has banned Powerpoint presentations in meetings.
Not only that, but meetings start with each attendee sitting and silently reading a six-page memo for the first 30 minutes. People take notes then discuss the memo. This group reading process is necessary because “executives will bluff their way through the meeting as if they’ve read the memo because we’re busy and so you’ve got to actually carve out the time for the memo to get read,” Bezos said.
It must have been odd at first to have a silent meeting for 30 minutes. It could be perceived as the penalty a flabby workforce pays for not preparing for meetings properly or it could be a signpost to a more transparent, collaborative way of working in large organisations.
It’s the process of drawing up the memo which is the most enlightening feature here:
“The memo is from the whole team. The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. They simply can’t be done in a day or two. [It] is harder for the author, but it forces the author to clarify their own thinking,” Bezos explained.
This is surely the key rather than the Powerpoint ban. The memos prioritise collaboration, focus and careful thinking about what decisions need to be taken at meetings, rather than calling for them for the sake of it.
This plays into our process at Mediacells. Swanky decks have been superseded by live examples for clients to discuss in real-time. Our Collaborative Consulting is akin to the Amazon memo process and means that we are always focused on working with our clients throughout projects.
We start by asking them what success looks like, establish the measurement requirements together and their internal and external communication needs. We always ensure the work is never ‘black boxed’ – it’s always an open two-way process for the client, who has ownership, is involved in all steps and can get at the ‘nuts and bolts’ whenever he needs to.
All knowledge is always transferable to the appropriate people, gradually or as immediately as they require. Throughout the process there will be learnings together and the leaders in the business will get involved when it’s the right time for them.
Powerpoint may have been surpassed by the live experience, but Bezos is right – nothing beats collaboration.