I didn’t see a No Doubt reference coming in the first week of writing daily, but here we are. (Big shoutout to Gwen Stefani and crew for the Tragic Kingdom album).
Much has already been written about Amazon’s writing culture (including a few posts by me). But I heard a fresh take on its origins this week. This entire podcast with Edward Tufte is worth a listen. But to save you some time, he started using 6 pagers in his lectures instead of presentations. Bezos caught wind of this idea and brought it to Amazon.
There are a lot of reasons to favor a culture of writing. One I had not heard before was speed. Tufte explained that people can read faster than they can speak. Some quick Googling and asking chatGPT indicates the average is about twice as fast.
Meaning that in a written culture, a 30-minute lecture can be delivered in a 15-minute reading session. This halving allows for more time spent in discussion and debate. Discussion being the real intent of a meeting. Or if more time isn’t necessary, everyone can head out early to get some Chipotle.
Writing also offers several other benefits. The writer has more time to craft their argument. Adding supporting details and data that could be hard to convey verbally. While readers can study the document ahead of time and come to the meeting prepared to discuss it. Instead of hearing the information for the first time, and then being asked for an opinion.
Defaulting to writing can be hard. Especially when a lot of the world is still stuck in presentation mode. But it promises more time. More time for discussion. And more time saved that can be spent on actual work (or going on a burrito run).