Jeff Bezos and Winston Churchill do not have much in common, but one is CEO of a company that is valued at $770bn and the other stopped the Nazis invading Britain, so the advice of both is worth heeding. Amazon’s founder and the UK’s war-time prime minister agreed on one thing: the value of a good memorandum. Bezos’s recent letter to shareholders extolled the Amazon practice of starting all internal meetings by everyone present reading a memo of up to six pages, explaining what they are there to discuss. Instead of watching a PowerPoint presentation, or breaking into an immediate debate, Amazon’s executives spend up to half an hour in complete silence, absorbing the briefing that one of them has prepared. "This is the weirdest meeting culture you will ever encounter," Bezos admitted in one interview. The principle is that an executive must refine their proposal so fully to express it in narrative form that everyone will be able to understand it. Reading the memo means that all those...

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