The Reason Jeff Bezos Banned Powerpoint At Amazon

Increasingly, we're all getting the sneaking suspicion that it's Jeff Bezos's world, and we just live in it. Oh, sure — for a while there it looked like Bill Gates was going to corner the market on everything cornerable via Microsoft, but he seems to have decided to devote his time to being a good-deed-doer. (Maybe he was tallying the day's take and discovered he couldn't count any higher. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt.)

Back to Bezos: There are oh-so-very-many stories about the way his Amazon employees are treated, particularly the good people who are tasked with actually finding and packing up and shipping all of those pool floats and political tell-alls with which we are stocking our quarantined existences in July 2020. Many of those stories are, at best, negative — long hours, low pay, and do not let the word "union" escape your lips if you want to keep your incredibly unrewarding job. (Well, when you put it that way....) Camelot it ain't.

Bezos wants things his way, and he gets them. It's hard to argue with success (especially if "limited bathroom break time" is part of your "success" definition), and it's not just the warehouse kids who have to toe the Bezos line. It extends to management meetings as well. Case in point: delivering information within the room.

No more slides

Many of us have had to sit through what's charitably referred to as "death by PowerPoint" ("and speaking of Bill Gates and Microsoft...."). Slides of information projected on a surface as the presenter drones on, often simply reading what's on the wall. Bezos, whose time is very valuable indeed, reached the conclusion that PowerPoint is a waste of his time. And everyone else's. For Amazon management meetings, information is given to each participant in printed form. On pieces of paper. (And everything old is new again.) What had been a way-too-long snore-fest is now a 30-minute silent read from what's referred to as a briefing document, says Inc — from four to six pages of memo, written and structured like a narrative.

As CNBC reports, Bezos considers the move "the smartest thing we ever did." Besides the time factor, the documents, prepared correctly, will actually help clarify ideas. The idea dates back to 2004, as the UK's Real Business tells us. Business Insider quotes from Bezos's email to his senior management team: "The reason writing a 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."

No PowerPoint means more clarity in less time. No wonder the guy sells so many pool floats.