Let's talk about Six-Page Memos.
🤔 Why you should care about it
The memo's purpose is to present a well-thought-out argument that allows everyone in the meeting to be on the same page and engage in meaningful discussions. Technology leaders can leverage memos to promote clear, concise, and well-reasoned communication within the company while encouraging everyone to maintain a high information management standard.
Inefficient and unfocused meetings —> Because executives tend to jump from meeting to meeting, they usually spend most of the meeting time getting up to speed and gathering information.
Ambiguity and miscommunication in decision-making —> Presentations rely too heavily on the presenter's performance and usually contain little background information.
Lack of critical thinking and in-depth analysis —> Oral presentations don't require authors to deeply analyse a problem or opportunity.
In the Six-Pager Memo method, the person who calls for the meeting writes a detailed, narrative-style memo that is a maximum of six pages long before any meeting takes place. A memo generally consists of the following sections:
- Introduction: Sets the stage and direction of the document.
- Goals: Defines success metrics for the subject matter.
- Tenets: Outlines guiding principles or values for the plan.
- State of the Business: Provides a detailed snapshot of the current situation.
- Lessons Learned: Reflects on past experiences and data-driven insights.
- Strategic Priorities: Lays out the plan and its execution for achieving goals.
- Appendix: Offers additional data, context, and details for deeper understanding.
At the beginning of the meeting, attendees spend the first 15 to 30 minutes silently reading the memo. This ensures that everyone is fully informed about the topic and has time to digest the information before the discussion. Once the reading time is over, the conversation starts, and the meeting proceeds, with everyone contributing based on their understanding of the memo.
💡 Key Concepts
Written communication culture —> Sharing information through written means within an organisation fosters a shared understanding among team members and promotes effective decision-making.
Writing is thinking —> Writing helps clarify thoughts, ensuring well-considered ideas and precise communication.
Narrative structure —> Organising and presenting events coherently and connectedly to fit with the human brain's way of making sense of the world.
"Six-page memos are time-consuming to write and read" —> The time investment in creating and reading six-page memos results in more transparent communication, better understanding, and more informed decision-making, ultimately saving time in the long run.
"Not everyone is skilled at writing lengthy, detailed narratives" —> While not everyone may excel at writing, creating six-page memos encourages skill development. It fosters a culture of improvement and growth in written communication.
"Six-page memos may not be as visually engaging as presentations" —> While visual elements are essential, the focus on written narrative promotes more profound understanding, more transparent communication, and a detailed record of the subject matter for future reference.
📚 Top book
Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon - Colin Bryar, Bill Carr
🗂 See also
📄 Architecture Decision Record
📝 Top content
The Anatomy of an Amazon 6-pager - Jesse Freeman
What might Amazon's six-page narrative structure look like? - Shawn Callahan
Using 6-Page and 2-Page Documents To Make Organisational Decisions - Ian Nowland