What is the Amazon 6-Pager and the reason for 6pager.com

Welcome to 6pager, a website and tool built on the concept of the Amazon 6-page memo.  

The 6-page memo, commonly known inside Amazon as the 6-pager, is not just a document, or meeting format.  It is indeed a philosophy, and a system of creating high-quality and thoughtful analysis communicated in the form of written narratives.  

Every part of the 6-pagee is carefully thought through, tested and experimented, and refined over several years inside Amazon to get to the point of where it is today.

The following mention in 2017 is one of the many references from Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon to the process and importance of it in building Amazon to the company that it it, one of the top innovators in the world, and a model we all can learn from.

This is the goal of creating 6pager.com. To spread the word more, and hopefully contribute to making it a bit faster and less time intensive to generate, resulting in more high quality memos generated per unit of time by product innovators.

My name is Darius Vasefi, creator of 6pager.com, along with my team at InfiniVentures Labs (IVL).

In my stint at Amazon Prime as a Sr. Product Manager in the 2017-18 timeframe I worked on a few 6 page memos.  I can tell you it was a trying experience, specially for a startup founder not familiar with the Amazon ways and foreign to the corporate culture.  While I found the concept fascinating, to the point of being the only person from Amazon to actually even think about registering the domain and investing in creating a tool to help the process (I’m still baffled how I was the only person to do this among thousands of amazing product leaders at Amazon, but that’s another story.. Actually an important one specifically for leaders inside Amazon.)

So the question for me was, how do I do 6 page memos for my other projects and products without spending so much time finding open slots on stakeholder calendars, sending emails back and forth, receiving more timely feedback and less time dotting the i’s and crossing the T’s.  Shouldn’t all the new web-based collaborative functionality available in other productivity tools also apply to the six pager memo? We believe yes.

Can we succeed?

Most experiments fail, and 6pager.com is another experiment.  

In order to understand what success could mean we need Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure how the product is serving the users. We’re looking at these KPIs and associated metrics to measure our success, or failure:

  1. Time: 

    1. Reducing the duration of creating 6 page memos (Jeff Bezos mentions a week in his note below, but in all honesty it may take a week to find time to book a  1:1 conversation with a stakeholder even remotely)

    2. Creator time

    3. Stakeholder and team time

  2. Quality: Increase 6 page memo quality, and wh

  3. Less meetings: reduce (not eliminate) the number of 1:1 and group review meetings to complete a high quality memo.

  4. Better data: improve access to more up-to-date, relevant and objective data

  5. Better transparency: enable more stakeholder to have access to WIP and completed memo’s and reduce siloed innovation.

  6. Objective evaluation: provide means to objectively evaluate memo quality and intended results.

  7. Finances: generate healthy revenues for 6pager, assuming we deliver on some or all of the above metrics.

Love to hear other ways or metrics you think might make the process better.

An indirect potential benefit

At IVL and 6pager.com we are obsessed about performance and results, as well as on a #WeFirst mentality vs. the #MeFirst.

MeFirst is when a person in a meeting or in evaluating a proposal, feature, improvement, tool, etc. thinks about how it impacts them first, before thinking how it will impact the organization, and even worse the customer.  Unfortunately Me-First is prevalent in today’s corporations and why Jeff Bezos is so concerned about Amazon’s stasis. 

Don't take my word for it

MeFirst mentality created obstacles for innovation in organizations including for creating, assessing and approving 6 page memos and although it’s a different 

The goal is not a simple one I appreciate anyone taking a look at 6pager.com and providing honest and constructive feedback, even publicly.  It’s all good!

Here’s the excerpt from the 2017 shareholder letter about 6-page memos and link to read the entire letter.

One additional point.  A personal growth moment for me was when I realized I was reacting personally to valuable content based on how and who it was coming from.  This was a problem since we all have egos and for example think if I work at another FAANG company I can not be following a competitor’s process.  I realized this was a limitation and the best product innovators did NOT have this limitation, this bug.  So my goal is to learn the best practices from every company, competitors specially.. That’s what a smart product leader does, or should do and what I want to be. I highly value the OKR process from Google and the Facebook “hack-a-thons” and Apple’s maniacal obsession about design and aim to get better at utilizing them in my work.

1997 Amazon / Bezos shareholder letter

“Six-Page Narratives 

We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. We silently read one at the beginning of each meeting in a kind of “study hall.” Not surprisingly, the quality of these memos varies widely. Some have the clarity of angels singing. They are brilliant and thoughtful and set up the meeting for high-quality discussion. Sometimes they come in at the other end of the spectrum. 

They are brilliant and thoughtful and set up the meeting for high-quality discussion.

The difference between a great memo and an average one is much squishier. It would be extremely hard to write down the detailed requirements that make up a great memo. Nevertheless, I find that much of the time, readers react to great memos very similarly. They know it when they see it. The standard is there, and it is real, even if it’s not easily describable. 

The difference between a great memo and an average one..

You know it when you see it!

Here’s what we’ve figured out. Often, when a memo isn’t great, it’s not the writer’s inability to recognize the high standard, but instead a wrong expectation on scope: they mistakenly believe a high-standards, six-page memo can be written in one or two days or even a few hours, when really it might take a week or more! They’re trying to perfect a handstand in just two weeks, and we’re not coaching them right. The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. They simply can’t be done in a day or two. 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.”

Wrong expectation on scope: they mistakenly believe a high-standards, six-page memo can be written in one or two days or even a few hours, when really it might take a week or more!