At the start of each meeting, all the participants read all of each of these memos, in silence. Bezos says that this forms the basis for ‘a high-quality discussion’ in the rest of the meeting.
Bezos believes that the discipline of reading and writing grammatically correct prose generates nuggets of wisdom.
He’s been quoted as saying, “Writing a four-page memo is harder than ‘writing’ a 20-page PowerPoint because the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and a better understanding of what’s important, and how things are related. PowerPoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas.”
The Bezos-approved approach to management meetings is time-consuming.
Reading the memos at the start of meetings lasts for 30 minutes. Writing them in the first place can take weeks.
According to Bezos, the best memos are written and rewritten, shared with colleagues who’re asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. That’s something that can’t be done in a mere day or two.