Theory or practice?

Hmmm, not easy to answer. Yet most people would instinctively go for practice. So, here’s what Jeff Bezos said about competition in 1997 “We do work to pay attention to competitors and be inspired by them, but it is a fact that the customer-centric way is at this point a defining element of our culture.”

Wow! “at this point” he says. In other words, “we may change”.

He advocates a Day 1 culture = an entrepreneurial mindset and there’s a lot to it. Google it and you’ll see.

And he also bans PowerPoints in his executive meetings. What? We all know how powerful ppt is – when well done and used!

However, Bezos says that it doesn’t help thinking, and thinking is crucial in decision making! So, narrative memos are what he wants. And the meetings start in silence, everybody reading (and making notes) the memos. Why?

“… the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what’s more important than what, and how things are related.”

“PowerPoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas.”

Conclusion: “a list of bullet points in Word (…) would be just as bad as PowerPoint”.

I’m obviously thinking of how we mostly teach today in universities. We use powerpoints because we learnt from books, not articles, not summaries, not ppts. Yet this is how we encourage our students to learn. Not we as individuals, we as systems.