Business tycoons agree that focus and effective time management are of the utmost importance for success. Whilst we have a passion for creativity, we also understand that sometimes reinventing the wheel is unnecessary, and adopting (or tweaking) some tried and tested methodology can heighten our productivity. As the richest man in modern history, Jeff Bezos is rightly considered a pioneer — and analyzing how he keeps his ventures in shape has proved useful for inspiring our own business mechanisms.
One strategy in particular stood out:
Bezos made the decision to ban PowerPoint (and similar) presentations, and instead move to the six-pager model. The concept behind this is that PowerPoints often gloss over important details and focus too much on aesthetics rather than content. But meetings need to use time productively and have everyone involved focused and knowledgeable on the key content being discussed.
With visual presentations banned (unless strictly necessary), the six pager usage is (often) as follows:
The success of the document is largely in the structure.
It is important to note that creating a 'one-size-fits-all' template is not useful. Every problem varies, so every six-pager should be bespoke to accurately address the topic at hand.
The recommended sections include:
To support these 6 pages, appendices can be added with detailed tables, graphs and data. However, the purpose of the six-pager is to lay out the information in carefully thought-out text. The reader should be guided through the situation with all relevant background and information to the decision at hand. Adding infographics into the middle of such a document would act as 'noise', and potentially derail the thinking process.
To ensure the content is digestible, there are some tips we recommend. Firstly, and intuitively, keep the content to six pages maximum. The font needs to be easy to read, both in size and style. Structuring the document with well defined margins and paragraphs will undoubtedly help. Lastly, yet importantly, consider using numbered lists if you have to use bullet points, as it'll be easier to refer to particular points during a meeting (the Amazon six-pager aims to avoid bullet points whenever possible as it can often discourage a more thoughtful approach to structuring data).
Keeping it simple with a standard word processing tool is sensible, but at Mäd we don't stop at the easiest idea. We opted to use Google Docs for our six-pagers to allow multiple team members access, to collaborate in real-time. Much like our decision to use Figma, Google Docs removes the burdensome organization of multiple versions of the same file: all comments and edits can be progressed in the same file with the ability to control who can change a file and who can purely view it. We're able to see who is viewing the document at any given time, which is particularly handy for conference calling.
The six-pager was introduced to increase productivity, focus and clarity. As we mentioned before, there is no single template for every problem, so we recommend always building your documents from scratch.
There may be recommendations to keep it simple: avoid imagery; colors; unordered lists; aesthetic elements. However, knowing your audience — for whom the document is intended — and your brand, may inspire you to break some rules.
We inject simple flashes of our Mäd red, to make clean documents pop. It highlights our ability to solve problems intelligently, in an organized and professional manner.
Above all else, proof read your six-pager. Ensure that it objectively and concisely addresses the matter at hand, and be confident it is easy to understand.
Know when to use this tool, as six pages of text is not the answer to every issue.
Finally, don't shy away from redrafting the document entirely: often, working through the narrative and potential solutions can challenge your own preconceptions of the problem.