Thursday, August 22, 2013

Let us now praise Jeff Bezos

Oh, no, not for buying The Washington Post, but for banning PowerPoint at Amazon headquarters.

So have you already stopped reading this and started preparing your resume to send there?

Bezos requires his employees to communicate through six-page narrative memos, and he starts meetings with quiet reading periods -- “study halls” -- in which everyone reads the memo from beginning to end, Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill writes.
If you know you must write six pages—and that others will publicly read and discuss it—you’ll take the time to do it as well as you can. 
Composing six well-crafted pages requires thought—not just a list of topics and disjointed points but the development of an argument. As Bezos put it in a 2012 interview: "When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences and complete paragraphs, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking."
As a former PowerPoint employee described:
Now we’ve got highly paid people sitting there formatting slides—spending hours formatting slides—because it’s more fun to do that than concentrate on what you’re going to say. . . . Millions of executives around the world are sitting there going, “Arial? Times Roman? Twenty-four point? Eighteen point?”
“Writing is thinking," NEH chairman Bruce Cole has said. "To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard."

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