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As a former Amazonian, most of this book is familiar to me. There's some new stories and angles, but much is familiar. It's well written and great to see such a repository of useful information. Would have been useful while I was there :-)
For non Amazonians, it's incredibly useful if you can get past the "Amazonian" thing. Adopting these practices will be valuable for any company, but I suspect many will resist as being "good for Amazon but not for us". I hope more can see beyond this superficial resistance.
A great high level overview of the key principles and processes that the authors believe a responsible for the success of amazon. Backed up with well narrated examples. Gives a real insight into the need to recruit people willing to live by the cultural tenets of the company. My reading of it is that the The culture is key, without that buy in to those tenets it wouldn't work.
Perhaps one of the best lessons is addressed in the title from the get go. Working Backwards covers not only ways of working but leadership, organisation, communication, and effective measurements - all within case study like use cases. Great book, must read.
So many concepts seem so simple and just common sense, but there has been such deep and critical thinking behind implementing these at Amazon. I can see how I can apply them where I am now and wish I’d been able to read it earlier.
Good and easy read with as easy flow and anecdotes.
It reads like a long internal memo to employees (self-censored for public dissemination) on how to be Amazonian today, even though both authors have left Amazon for years.
Bryar and Carr give full details on the processes to be followed at Amazon, but very little in terms of narrative. The anecdotal information provided are vignettes demonstrating application of the 14 leadership principles, which are public, rather than a complete account of any project. The results were mixed, and the authors do not trouble themselves to draw any causal inferences about why some initiatives succeeded while others failed. Other than--very ironically--blaming the competition and circumstances. Since the Amazonian processes were followed, and the authors believe them infallible, how else could they explain failure and success?
Worse, you get the distinct impression that it was whenever Jeff Bezos vetoed the Amazonian processes given in such detail (presumably violating the 14 leadership principles although the authors will try to explain away his actions as demonstrating a different principle) that resulted in Amazon's runaway success with the Kindle and AWS, whereas when Bezos applied their rigourous processes religiously, it resulted in failure, as with the Fire Phone. The authors' own plug that being Amazonian will benefit any company does not follow from the evidence they submit. Not when they freely admit when discussing their competition that anything Apple touched made money.
The fact that Bryar and Carr quoted verbatim the 14 leadership principles as they are TODAY in 2020, not during the early years when they were actually there, says it all. There's no pros and cons. There's no description of trade-offs. There are no weaknesses. I called the book is "questionable" but unfortunately there isn't much of a thesis to question!
-Information about Amazon's processes 5/5 -Narrative information about Amazon's past projects 1/5 -Advice from the authors, trade-offs and theories of causation 0/5
You will learn much about what it means to be Amazonian, and some detailed process descriptions that you may decide is right for your business. Learning how Amazon hopes its employees will behave can't hurt if you have the 15 hours it takes to read this book.