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The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World's Most Disruptive Company

Book Description

In just twenty years, has gone from a start-up internet bookseller to a global company revolutionizing multiple industries, including retail, publishing, logistics, devices, apparel, and cloud computing.

But what is at the heart of's rise to success? Is it the tens of millions of items in stock, the company's technological prowess, or the many customer service innovations like "one-click"?

As a leader at Amazon who had a front-row seat during its formative years, John Rossman understands the iconic company better than most. From the launch of Amazon's third-party seller program to their foray into enterprise services, he witnessed it all—the amazing successes, the little-known failures, and the experiments whose outcomes are still in doubt.

In The Amazon Way, Rossman introduces readers to the unique corporate culture of the world's largest Internet retailer, with a focus on the fourteen leadership principles that have guided and shaped its decisions and its distinctive leadership culture.

Peppered with humorous and enlightening firsthand anecdotes from the author's career at Amazon, this revealing business guide is also filled with the valuable lessons that have served Jeff Bezos's "everything store" so well—providing expert advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, CEOs, and investors alike.

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
  2. Introduction
  3. 1. Obsess Over the Customer
    1. The Virtuous Cycle Goes Fractal: The Flywheel Effect
    2. Serving the Customer: The Andon Cord
    3. The Voice of the Customer as a Driver of Innovation
  4. 2. Take Ownership of Results
    1. Amazon’s Principles of Ownership
  5. 3. Invent and Simplify
    1. Simplification Epitomized: Amazon’s Platform Businesses
    2. Process vs. Bureaucracy
    3. Other People’s Work and The Mechanical Turk
    4. Third-Party Sellers: Inventing a Platform and Making It Simple
    5. Fulfillment by Amazon
    6. Imitate the Competition, and Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
  6. 4. Leaders Are Right—A Lot
    1. The Future Press Release
    2. Clarity and the Culture of Performance
    3. “Did I Have a Good Day Today?” The Engineer’s Answer
  7. 5. Hire and Develop the Best
    1. Raising the Bar on Hiring
    2. The Passing Grade Is A
  8. 6. Insist on the Highest Standards
    1. Service Level Agreements
    2. “Cookies or Cookies & Crumpets?”
  9. 7. Think Big
    1. Free Cash Flow—The Secret of Thinking Big
    2. The Regret Minimization Framework
  10. 8. Have a Bias for Action
    1. Sometimes the Mere Threat of a Big Idea Is Enough
    2. Don’t Let Simple Things Be Hard Things
  11. 9. Practice Frugality
    1. The Legend of the Door Desk
    2. No More Free Advil
  12. 10. Be Vocally Self-Critical
    1. The Journey and the End Results
    2. Which Dog Is Not Barking?
  13. 11. Earn the Trust of Others
    1. Six Keys to Earning Trust
    2. Trust and the Two-Pizza Team
  14. 12. Dive Deep
    1. The Five Whys
    2. Rolling Up the Details
    3. “In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data”
  15. 13. Have Backbone—Disagree and Commit
    1. The Importance of Mental Toughness
  16. 14. Deliver Results
  17. Conclusion
  18. Appendix A: Future Ready Self-Service
    1. A Snapshot of Future-State Customer Service
    2. The Service-Agile Organization
    3. Summary
    4. Why Self-Service Matters More Than We Thought
    5. Customers Prefer to Serve Themselves
    6. Self-Service Can Define an Organization’s Capacity for Growth
    7. Why the Definition of Self-Service Must Change
    8. What Passes for Self-Service
    9. Self-Service Must Flow
    10. What Is Your Self-Service Communicating?
    11. 10 Essential Best Practices of Future-Ready Self-Service
    13. The Problem
    14. The Solution
    15. The Results
    16. Takeaways
    17. The 10 essential best practices of future-ready self-service
    18. Conclusion
  19. Appendix B: Free Cash Flow
    1. Free Cash Flow Defined
    2. Free Cash Flow as Amazon’s Business Engine
    3. Free Cash Flow as a Decision Driver
  20. Appendix C. The Critical Capabilities of Building and Operating a Platform Company
    1. Changes to the Business Model
    2. Operational Changes
    3. The Attributes of a Platform Ecosystem
    4. Critical Capabilities
    5. Summary
  21. Acknowledgements
  22. About the Author
  23. Sources