Journal Amazon ‘API Mandate’ Memo and Document Culture

An interesting set of articles on the culture and business practices of Amazon. With perhaps some transferability to other sectors.

“The Memo”

The premise of “The Memo” is that the organisation should arrange itself much like a set of loosely coupled service with clearly defined APIs and SLAs between teams and services. There are supposedly three lessons that are widely transferable:

The Document Culture of Amazon

A descriptive article of how Amazon uses document-based meetings and the process around these. With some suggestions for improvement and look at the cost of this practice.

The article explains the concept/process so I wont repeat it here. Instead I reflect on the things that appeal to me about this practice and some of the costs.

The documenting of ideas, PRs (changes), and narratives appeals to my obsession with open/transparent organisations where anyone can see what others are doing. I think this is key to innovation and Agile processes. Documentation also creates a referenceable organisational memory. The scheduling of time at the start of the meeting to read the document I think is key - but requires a certain amount of discipline and culture so that bad habits don’t creep in e.g missing starts of meetings etc. Documentation also is key for remote/asynchronous working.

There is a “high barrier to entry” for meetings (perhaps a benefit?). A certain level of skill as a writer / written communicator is required and some level of training. There is a need for a very good document management system otherwise benefits wont be realised.

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