There are bad companies, good ones, great ones, and then there are legendary companies. Companies that disrupt, innovate, revolutionize. These are companies that lead, not just in market share, but in hearts and minds.
Legendary companies come in all shapes, sizes, and business models. But each one can teach us something about how we can turn our companies into legends.
In just under two decades Amazon has become the Walmart of the digital age and more than any other company has defined how we shop online while continuing to innovate and improve its customer experience at a breakneck pace.
Amazon is a legendary company. And while books can be written about the 4 pillars of Amazon’s success, and we can go on and on about exceptional aspects of Amazon’s business, instead let us focus on one foundational practice that enables Amazon’s legendary tendencies.
Amazon relies heavily on the use of narratives to communicate key business directives.
Jeff Bezos is well known for his powerpoint prohibition in executive meetings. And this is not just because most powerpoint presentations are offensively boring. Bezos requires his executives to write a 6-page narrative memos, and provides study time during meetings so executives can actually read them. Each memo must include
1) The context or question.
2) Approaches to answer the question – by whom, by which method, and their conclusions
3) How is your attempt at answering the question different or the same from previous approaches
4) Now what? – that is, what’s in it for the customer, the company, and how does the answer to the question enable innovation on behalf of the customer?
According to Bezos “They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.”
In addition to memos, each product manager must write a press release for each new product before work on the product even begins.
This approach forces the teams at Amazon to not only think clearly about the business and the product, but because it’s primary focus is customer centricity they think clearly about their customers as well.
Is it any wonder why Amazon has a legendary customer experience?
By using a narrative based approach your company too, can do legendary things.