Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon

Colin Bryar, Bill Carr

My rating: 4/5

Working Backwards is a business book on the story and culture of Amazon. The first part deals with the culture of Amazon ranging from hiring, organization, in house communication and metrics of achievement. Amazon culture places a lot of stress on its 14 leadership principles.

  • A quote that stuck with me was : every company has a culture, if you don’t actively create it, you’ll learn about it once it is made.
  • Development at Amazon works backwards from the desired customer experience and any idea begins with a press release that elicits discussion, critique and customer feedback on a development proposal.
  • Leadership is single threaded: every major priority has one leader responsible for it whose 100% reponsibility is delivering that product eliminating dropped balls from multitasking or leadership vacuums.
  • Any idea is condensed to a six pager which is read before meetings by everyone involved in teh meeting.
  • Metrics measure achievement, not activity with emphasis on customer facing variables rather than internal variables.
  • Each team communicated to the others using services and API calls This enabled Amazon to expose any internal product from a team to the outsde world quickly gaining first mover advantage.

The second part deals with the many products that Amazon has brought forth, mainly, Kindle, Prime, Prime video and AWS. It is interesting to understand the decisions that went behind these products and how Amazon pushed towards market leadership in each segment.

This book would be a valuable read for founders and managers.