This article showed up in my Twitter feed:
I like a bunch of it. Bezos' success in business shows that he's likely set up some good practices over at Amazon. Most of the article seems to work for the Amazon context. I like it. I'd love to work in an environment that moved that quickly.
As an English teacher, I appreciated his logic behind the 6-page narrative memo: it adds clarity, far more than bullet-point Powerpoint presentations. The article explains,
"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," Bezos wrote. "PowerPoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas."
Sounds good to me. Over the years, I've moved away from Power point presentations and the like because I feel I have no evidence that they're effective. I can sympathize with 6 pages of memo that help put something in context and clarify vision. When students ask, "can I write in notes form?" I tend to say "No." Notes need too much context. Just use full sentences whenever possible so your ideas are as clear as possible.
Later in the article, the writer describes Bezos' "Disagree and commit" style of decision-making:
Bezos understands the common desire to get more data but says there is an obvious problem with that approach. "If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you're probably being slow," he wrote in his 2016 letter to shareholders.
Not bad. I like that way of working through things too, of being willing to change course as you go in order to maximize the possibilities available to you.
This works in the big-ol' orporate world, but I don't think this way-of-thinking works in politics. Reading the article reminded me of this excellent episode of BBC4's Seriously podcast. In it, they interview politicians as they consider the decisions they've made, the ones they've made in a rush and the ones they've taken their time with.
One of the tensions we're feeling in the world right now stems from Donald Trump's corporate background. He's used to being making rash decisions and keeping things mercurial. But in politics, that sort of corporate innovation thinking doesn't necessarily lead to good outcomes.
Of course, we'll have to wait and see what some of Trump's outcomes are. But for the time being his rash decisions don't seem to be working effectively in the political market, no matter what he tells us.
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