Working Backwards Summary 2023 - Deepstash

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Working Backwards Summary

About Working Backwards Book

Working Backwards is an insider's breakdown of Amazon's approach to culture, leadership, and best practices from two long-time Amazon executives—with lessons and techniques you can apply to your own company, and career, right now.

In Working Backwards, two long-serving Amazon executives reveal the principles and practices that have driven the success of one of the most extraordinary companies the world has ever known. With twenty-seven years of Amazon experience between them—much of it during the period of unmatched innovation that created products and services including Kindle, Amazon Prime, Amazon Studios, and Amazon Web Services—Bryar and Carr offer unprecedented access to the Amazon way as it was developed and proven to be repeatable, scalable, and adaptable.

With keen analysis and practical steps for applying it at your own company—no matter the size—the authors illuminate how Amazon’s fourteen leadership principles inform decision-making at all levels of the company. With a focus on customer obsession, long-term thinking, eagerness to invent, and operational excellence, Amazon’s ground-level practices ensure these characteristics are translated into action and flow through all aspects of the business.

Working Backwards is both a practical guidebook and the story of how the company grew to become so successful. It is filled with the authors’ in-the-room recollections of what “Being Amazonian” is like and how their time at the company affected their personal and professional lives. They demonstrate that success on Amazon’s scale is not achieved by the genius of any single leader, but rather through commitment to and execution of a set of well-defined, rigorously-executed principles and practices—shared here for the very first time.

Whatever your talent, career or organization might be, find out how you can put Working Backwards to work for you.

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Working Backwards by Colin Bryar, Bill Carr
Amazon: The Beginning

Amazon: The Beginning

Jeff Bezos worked for a New York hedge fund in 1994. That year, Bezos learnt that the internet's user base was expected to rise by over two thousand per cent per year in the future years. Soon after, he made a bold decision that would come to define Amazon's philosophy: he quit his hedge fund position and set out to build Amazon.

Books, Bezos thought, were the ideal product for an e-commerce firm. Even the largest bookstores could only stock tens of thousands of volumes at a time. Bezos would be able to provide practically every book that was available if he opened an online bookstore.


The Ideals Of Business At Amazon

The Ideals Of Business At Amazon

  • The success of Amazon is built on its leadership ideals.
  • Amazon has eliminated confirmation bias and hurry from its hiring process.
  • When it comes to delivering complex material, PowerPoint presentations fall short.
  • Amazon distinguishes itself by prioritizing the needs of its consumers over their own.
  • Amazon’s next-day delivery option is the result of obsessive consumer focus.
  • The company’s leadership ideas were ignored in Amazon’s initial video-on-demand program.


The Success of Amazon Is Built on Its Leadership Ideals

The Success of Amazon Is Built on Its Leadership Ideals

Amazon's leadership values are the bedrock of its success.

Amazon's Invent and Simplify concept was exhibited by Bezos' imaginative thinking. Amazon executives are constantly looking for fresh and imaginative ways to accomplish their goals.

Bezos displayed another principle by quitting his job: a Bias for Action. Amazon executives believe that speed is critical to their company's success. Even if you act fast and make a mistake, you can generally recover. It's better to take a calculated risk like Bezos did when he quit the hedge fund, rather than spending a lot of time evaluating your choices.


How to use metrics in management. Amazon makes the distinction very clear.

Amazon's 2 Leading or Lagging Metrics

Amazon's 2 Leading or Lagging Metrics

  • (Controllable) Input Metrics - These are metrics related to the work you put in.
  • Output Metrics - The results of the work. 

The input metrics are considered leading indicators. Output is lagging, meaning time needs to pass before you see results. 

The magic is identifying what sort of work gets produces the best results, and focusing on that. Managing just based on output it is very inefficient. Managing on inputs alone can ineffective. 


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