Jeff Bezo, founder of Amazon.com, believes in “conserving money for things that matter”.
Desks at their headquarters are still modelled on the one Bezos built for himself in the early days and which he still uses. It has a cheap wooden door as the top, connected with metal brackets to sawn-off two-by-fours as the legs.
Amazon still hangs whiteboards in its elevators, as a simple but cost effective way of letting their often hyperactive, always-on employees amuse themselves by scribbling away between floors, whether little notes or maybe the germ of a new idea.
However another Jeff Bezos concept, “the two pizza team”, where if your team can’t be fed on two pizzas then you should cut the number of people in the team, doesn’t have anything to do with frugality but everything to do with communication.
As reported in Fast Company, the idea first came up during a company off-site retreat. “People were saying that groups needed to communicate more. Jeff got up and said, ‘No, communication is terrible!’
Not something you might expect a CEO to say and it shocked his managers.
However Bezos went onto describe his idea of a decentralised, disentangled company where small groups can innovate and test their visions independently of everyone else. He came up with the notion of the ‘two-pizza team’- If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.
This definition limits a task force to between five and seven people, depending on their appetites… and the size of the pizzas.
The teams have been successful and have been credited with creating some of the site’s quirkiest and most popular features, including the Gold Box, which is a little animated icon of a treasure chest that is basically the site’s highlighted deal of the day. You can find it under the “Today’s Deals” link at the top of the home page.
The principle of the Two Pizza Teams is being adopted at other companies now and, if nothing else, saving them something on catering bills!