The Amazon 6-Pager: What, Why, and How (2024)

The Amazon 6-Pager: What, Why, and How (2024)

Portrait of Jess Cheung Lark's Author
Portrait of Jess Cheung Lark's Author

Jess Cheung

November 13, 2023


Nov 13, 2023


4 min read

The Amazon 6-pager, a meeting format innovated by the e-commerce and technology giant Amazon, stands as a highly effective approach to conducting meetings. Renowned as one of Amazon's key principles, it has significantly altered the dynamics of team communication and collaboration in various meeting contexts. Whether it is a OKR meeting, one-one-one meeting, or a brainstorming meeting, organizations that have adeptly implemented this method have revolutionized information dissemination and decision-making processes in rapidly evolving business landscapes.

So how does Amazon work? Are you intrigued by the workings of Amazon's 6-page memo format?What are some examples and templates of the 6-page method? Curious about why numerous teams have transitioned from PowerPoint presentations to collaborative documents for more effective meetings? Continue reading to discover comprehensive insights into the Amazon 6-pager: its significance, and practical applications in businesses of any size.

What is Amazon 6-pager?

The Amazon 6-pager (also known as the 6-page memo, 6-page narrative or six pager) was originated in 2004 by Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos. It encouraged a shift from conventional PowerPoint presentations to a more narrative-style document.

This method was introduced in an email Bezos sent to his senior team. These six-page memos became a new standard for presenting ideas and conducting meetings. The concept responded to the need for more effective communication.

The Amazon 6-pager in a nutshell. Note that a 6-pager is different from a 1-pager when it comes to purpose and usage.

Source: Fact of the Day 1

These well-structured memos promotes deeper, more informed discussions on complex subjects. The structure shown above promotes a thorough understanding of the topic, so that all aspects are considered. In a nutshell, a 6-pager usually includes:

Introduction, Goals, Tenets, State of the Business, Lessons Learned, Strategic Priorities, Appendix.

A crucial Amazon meeting rules of the 6-pager method is the dedicated reading time at the start of each meeting. In this silent period, attendees spend roughly 30 minutes reviewing the memo. This ensures that everyone is aligned and prepared for a concentrated discussion. Following this, participants begin posing questions, analyzing the memo, and engaging in discussions.

Later on, this method was no longer an Amazon-only way of working. It became an adaptable process suitable for various industries and professional settings. The narrative format of the memos requires specificity and in-depth thinking. The meeting design helps bridge gaps in logic and information in order to make a more informed decision together.

The method was also recently mentioned in the best-selling book written by former Amazon executives, Working Backwards.

Why using Amazon 6-pager?

The Amazon 6-pager method provides a streamlined approach to internal communications. It helps different teams with varying understandings of a project align their perspectives. This method presents ideas in a concise, comprehensive manner to foster meaningful discussions. Therefore, it is a highly effective tool for decision-making.

  • Enhanced Clarity and Understanding: The detailed narrative ensures that complex ideas are presented in a structured and comprehensive manner.

  • Improved Critical Thinking: As the method requires thorough reading and analysis, it encourages team members to engage critically with the content.

  • Increased Meeting Efficiency: The 'silent start' of meetings, where everyone reads the 6 Pager, ensures that all participants are on the same page.

  • Encourages Thorough Thinking: Since presenting an idea requires a well-written memo, it pushes presenters to think deeply about their topic.

  • Promotes Active Participation: The format encourages everyone in the meeting to ask questions and engage in meaningful discussions.

  • Cost-Effective Collaboration: By reducing the need for lengthy and often unproductive meetings, the Amazon 6-pager method saves time and resources.

  • Adaptability Across Industries: This approach is not limited to tech companies; it can be adapted to various professional environments.

Step-by-step checklist to conduct a meeting using amazon 6-pager

Without further ado, let's dive into a step-by-step guide to conducting a successful meeting using the Amazon 6-pager method.

  • Preparation of the Memo: Begin by preparing a detailed, six-page memo covering all aspects of the topic or idea being presented.

    6-page memo

  • Distribute the Memo in Advance: Ensure that all meeting participants have access to the memo well before the meeting, allowing them time to familiarize themselves with the content.

    6-page narrative

  • Silent Start: Start the meeting with a 30-minute silent period where everyone reads the memo. This ensures that all attendees are fully prepared to discuss the topic.

    6-pager culture

  • Open Discussion: After the silent start, open the floor to questions, discussions, and debates about the memo's content.

  • Iterative Feedback: Conclude the meeting with feedback on the memo and discussion, noting any areas for improvement or further exploration.

Practical tips to use amazon 6-pager at your company

By now, we hope you are ready to apply the Amazon philosophy in your company. But before we ditch PowerPoint slides and embraces the 6-page memos, here are some practical tips to get you started on adopting the Amazon 6-pager methodology.

  • Alignment Matters: Before beginning to create a 6-pager, ensure alignment on goals and scope. Is this confirmed to be a shared vision for a new product? Have all the necessary teams been informed? Does this overlap with any ongoing projects?

  • Collaborative Creation: After all, this is a team efforts. Make sure to identify the right team members and stakeholders as soon as you start preparing your 6-pager. This ensures diverse perspectives and thorough coverage of the topic from the beginning.

  • Help Your Team Prepare: The beauty of using an Amazon 6-pager lies in its preparation. Ensure that your invitees can easily locate and read the document. This will encourage them to bring more meaningful questions and feedback.

  • Adapt with Flexibility: Amazon 6-pagers promote deep thinking, structured presentation, and high information density. It can be applied to as a whole or by parts. The memo doesn't need to be exactly six pages long. In fact, shorter memos are often preferred.

  • Time Your Agenda: Even with a detailed 6-page memo, discussions can sometimes go off course. It's good practice to include an agenda with your meeting invite. This helps your participants stay focused and ensures all key points are addressed.

Use a 6-pager friendly tool

A skilled team without the proper tools is like an army without firepower. Consider the following when choosing tools for implementing the Amazon 6-pager at your company:

  1. Collaborative Documenting: Choose a flexible document solution that reflects the collaborative nature of this methodology. It should allow members to add their ideas directly to the memo, and incorporate things like videos, images, and more.

  2. Easy Document Sharing: Avoid the frustration of access issues. After your team finishes a 6-pager , everyone should be able to open and view it easily once you drop it in a chat.

  3. Focused Meeting Groups: Avoid sharing your 6-pager in a large group chat where it could get lost among numerous messages. Instead, use a tool that allows you to create a dedicated meeting group. Here, you can share your memo, meeting invite, and arrange discussions.

  4. Engage Your Participants: Features like countdowns, polls, and self-paced document review can enhance efficiency. Participants can digest at their own pace and share well-thought feedback.

  5. Post-Meeting Communication: Ensure that you can share meeting conclusions and next steps easily. This keeps everyone, especially those in different time zones, in sync with their action items.

Case in point: how Jeff Bezos think about the Amazon 6-pager

In a recent podcast with Lex Fridman, Jeff Bezos describes the Amazon 6-page memo styles of meeting as follow:

A one page narrative that facilitates the meeting:

"I let my perfect meeting starts with a crisp document. So the document should be written with such clarity that it's like angels seeing from on high. I like a crisp document and a messy meeting. And the meeting is about, like asking questions that nobody knows the answer to and trying to wander your way to a solution. And, if that happens just right, it makes all the other meetings worthwhile. It feels good. It has a kind of beauty to it. It has an aesthetic beauty to it. And you get real breakthroughs in meetings like that."

The study hall culture to make everyone on the same page:

"In a typical meeting, we'll start with a 6-page narratively structured memo and we do a study hall. For 30 minutes, we sit there silently together in the meeting and read, take notes in the margins, and then we discuss. And the reason, by the way, we do study is that you could say I would like everybody to read these memos in advance. But the problem is people don't have time to do that, and they end up coming to the meeting having only skimmed the memo or maybe not read it at all... It's better to carve out the time for people so now we're all on the same page. We've all read the memo and now we can have a really elevated discussion."

The issues of PowerPoint

"And this is so much better than having a slideshow presentation or a PowerPoint presentation of some kind work there. That has so many difficulties. But one of the problems is that PowerPoint is really designed to persuade. It's kind of a sales tool. And internally, the last thing you want to do is sell. You're trying to find the truth. And the other problem with PowerPoint is that it's easy for the author and hard for the audience. And a memo is the opposite. It's hard to write a six-page memo; a good six-page memo might take two weeks to write. You have to write it, you have to rewrite it, you have to edit it, and you have to talk to people about it. They have to poke holes in it for you. If you write it again, it may take two weeks. So for the author, it's really a very difficult job. But for the audience, it's much better. So you can read for a half hour, and there are little problems with PowerPoint presentations too."

Using Lark to conduct Amazon 6-pager meetings

The Amazon 6-pager method is highly effective in enhancing the efficiency of meetings and streamlining decision-making processes. So do you have to use papers to implement the 6-pager memo? Not at all. Lark serves as an exemplary collaboration tool to facilitate this methodology. This video demonstrates how we at Lark actively implement the Amazon 6-pager method, providing a practical insight into its application.

Interested in elevating your team's collaboration and productivity? Discover more about ByteDance's productivity best practices for enhancing meeting efficiency and cross-border collaboration for fast-growing teams. Learn how Lark can assist you in adopting the Amazon 6-pager method to revolutionize your workflow today.