This morning, I'm trying to read "Jeff Bezos, The Post's incoming owner, known for a demanding management style at Amazon" and I have to hit the "reader" button to get to the text. Bezos needs to demand that the wall go. Having more readers is what really matters. Turning all that volume into money is something that can happen later. Isn't that how Amazon works? And anyway, Bezos already has so much money that he doesn't need to use WaPo to get more money. He needs it for his personal prestige and power. More readers suits that goal better than squeezing some money out of some of them.
Anyway, what is this "demanding style"? Paragraph 1 says he ends conversations that go on too long. Paragraph 2 says he has a "famously long-term approach." Interesting combination relating to time: patience in one sense and not in another. He's patient with the development of the product and the market, but wants efficiency internally. Paragraph 3 reinforces that point:
He favors a nimble, loosely organized company in which “two-pizza teams” execute important corporate tasks, because a work group requiring three pizzas over a lunch meeting is inherently too cumbersome. And he often requires employees pitching new ideas to write mock news releases for their product’s imagined launch, a way of focusing their minds on what will most excite customers.Put it in writing. Don't blather with me for an hour, when you can crystallize your thoughts through the writing process, and I can read it all in a minute.
Reading on, there's lots about efficiency. It's one thing to hate to waste any time — many of us identify with that. What's unusual is the willingness to impose rigorous efficiency on others, to decline the comforts of being nice to the people in your immediate environment, and to do it out of regard for the customers, the people out there, out of your sight.
How will this style apply to running the newspaper?
Bezos has said that he intends to keep his focus on Amazon and keep his home in the Seattle area rather than becoming a fixture in Washington, as four generations of The Post’s outgoing owners, the Graham family, have been.Good. Be the outsider. Be in it for us, the readers, not to be a part of some sick insider culture.
Bezos also has agreed to keep the newspaper’s top executives in place, though they may need to work without a popular corporate management tool: PowerPoint presentations.Take away their crutches.
Bezos all but banned such presentations at Amazon around the time Edward Tufte, a computer science professor at Yale, wrote an essay saying that their bullet points encouraged lazy thinking. Amazon employees are required to write papers, known as “narratives,” that are no longer than six pages.So Bezos has been about writing. Writing, marketing, efficiency... Okay. Show us the newspaper.
The idea for Bezos, former employees say, is that the act of writing forces people to focus their thoughts and think them through.
And stop blocking the view. Tear down that wall.