High Standards

Accelerate the rate of learning high standards with a few core principles of high standards

  • High standards are teachable. People are pretty good at learning high standards simply through exposure. High standards are contagious. Bring a new person onto a high standards team, and they’ll quickly adapt. The opposite is also true. If low standards prevail, those too will quickly spread.
  • What do you need to achieve high standards in a particular domain area? First, you have to be able to recognize what good looks like in that domain. Second, you must have realistic expectations for how hard it should be (how much work it will take) to achieve that result – the scope.
  • We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos.
  • The key point here is that you can improve results through the simple act of teaching scope – that a great memo probably should take a week or more.

So, the four elements of high standards as we see it: they are teachable, they are domain specific, you must recognize them, and you must explicitly coach realistic. scope.

From Jeff Bezos Letter to Shareholders 2018

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