Daily Productive Sharing 203 - How to Write Like Amazon?

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(The English version follows)


Amazon 的制胜法宝有什么?其中一个必然是 Jeff Bezos 强调的写作,比如他每年一封致股东的公开信,比如他禁止员工做 slides 而要写六页备忘录。在他看来,写作可以:

  1. 让人把逻辑想得更周全,而不是简单地罗列要点,前后无关联;
  2. 追求深度而不是广度;
  3. 可以让受众更好地明白你想说的要点。



How Jeff Bezos Turned Narrative into Amazon's Competitive Advantage

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What is the winning formula of Amazon? One of them must be Jeff Bezos‘ emphasis on writing, such as his annual open letter to shareholders, such as his ban on employees to make slides and to write six pages of memos instead. In his view, writing can

  1. allow one to think through logic more thoroughly, rather than simply listing the main points, back and forth without relevance.
  2. pursue depth rather than breadth.
  3. allow the audience to better understand the main points you want to say.

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How Jeff Bezos Turned Narrative into Amazon's Competitive Advantage

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Quality writing in the workplace isn’t a luxury at Amazon — it’s a cultural necessity.

At Amazon, instead of asking his senior leaders to brainstorm great ideas for the company, Bezos asks them to submit six-page, dense, narratively structured memos.

Writing memos forces his team to think through their ideas in high-resolution detail.

By imposing a rigorous, standardized template on the process of idea generation at Amazon, Jeff Bezos raises the bar and raises the quality of his team's thinking.

The reason writing a good 4 page memo is harder than 'writing' a 20 page powerpoint is because the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what's more important than what, and how things are related

Each memo is designed to be a full logical argument, complete with a reflexive defense of potential objections:
  1. The point or the objective being discussed
  2. How teams have attempted to handle this issue in the past
  3. How the presenter's attempt differs
  4. Why Amazon should care (i.e., what's in it for the company?)
If you’ve ever been in a brainstorm meeting, you've probably noticed that a few people can dominate the conversation. The nature of the format rewards quantity over quality and breadth over depth.

All CEOs have to repeat themselves. But with the right kind of writing, you can improve comprehension and reduce the amount of time you have to spend explaining yourself.

The most important message a CEO needs to spread throughout a company is about culture: what types of mind-sets are valued, and what types of behaviors are encouraged.

While CEOs and managers are quick to adopt Bezos’s ideas and put his best practices to work, few are likely to adopt the most influential and important practice inside Amazon itself: writing.