'Essential for any leader in any industry' – Kim Scott, bestselling author of Radical Candor
Working Backwards gives an insider's account of Amazon's approach to culture, leadership, and best practices from two long-time, top-level Amazon executives.
In 2018 Amazon became the world’s second trillion dollar company after Apple: a remarkable success story for a company launched out of a garage in 1994. How did they achieve this? And how can others learn from this extraordinary success and replicate it?
Colin Bryar started at Amazon in 1998; Bill Carr joined in 1999. Their time at Amazon covered a period of unmatched innovation that brought products and services including Kindle, Amazon Prime, Amazon Echo and Alexa, and Amazon Web Services to life. Through the story of these innovations they reveal and codify the principles and practices that have driven the success of one of the most extraordinary companies the world has ever known, from the famous 14-leadership principles, the bar raiser hiring process, and Amazon’s founding characteristics: customer obsession, long-term thinking, eagerness to invent, and operational excellence.
Through their wealth of experience they offer unprecedented access to the Amazon way as it was refined, articulated, and proven to be repeatable, scalable, and adaptable. Working Backwards shows how success 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 that you can apply at your own company, no matter the size.
Jeff Bezos once told me that unlike Google or Apple, 'Amazon doesn't have one big advantage, so we have to braid a rope out of many small advantages.' Amazon has demonstrated again and again that success doesn't result from one big stroke of genius but from a set of clear business practices consistently and boldly applied. Colin Bryar and Bill Carr dive deep into how Amazon has become the company to study if you want to succeed in 21st-century business. -- Tim O'Reilly, owner of O'Reilly Media
For those looking to change the world in ways (very) large and small via innovation and business, my strong recommendation is to dive deeply into Working Backwards. Bill and Colin have delivered a rarity of immense value, which is a powerful, high judgment dissection of the inputs to Amazon itself. I anticipate Working Backwards to quickly become required reading in board rooms and classrooms around the world -- Jason Kilar, CEO of WarnerMedia
Colin Bryar and Bill Carr have operationalized the core management practices that lie behind Amazon's success. In particular, their insights into how any successful leader can focus on narrative and metrics to take a short-cut to the truth are essential for any leader in any industry. You'll want to have your highlighter ready and keep this book close at hand for quick reference. -- Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor
Colin and Bill give us an insider’s view of Amazon during what was an extraordinary period of growth for the organization. Having partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) during my time at Red Hat and now at IBM, I can attest to their unrelenting commitment to customers. Leaders who want to foster customer obsession and drive operational excellence within their organizations should read this book. -- Jim Whitehurst, President, IBM
Working Backwards serves as a blueprint enabling leaders to implement guiding principles, operating rhythms and durable mechanisms that allow teams to scale effectively, even as your business expands at an accelerated clip. A must read for every entrepreneur or business leader focused on driving growth. -- Mariana Garavaglia, Chief People & Business Operations Officer, Peloton
Colin and Bill have captured the essence of what it means at Amazon to start with the customer and work backwards. They both held important leadership roles at critical moments in the company’s history that they’ve translated into interesting stories and lessons for readers. -- Jeff Wilke, CEO, Worldwide Consumer, Amazon
Colin and Bill very precisely captured the unique corporate culture of Amazon and described many of the essential parts of Amazon’s approach to innovation. They offer a unique, insiders’ view of the company with many valuable lessons for large companies that want to reinvent their business models as well as for startups that want to scale rapidly. This is the definitive innovation playbook. -- Serguei Netessine, Vice Dean and Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The Wharton School
Working Backwards should be read by anyone interested in the real thing -the principles, processes and practices of 21st century management and leadership. -- Forbes Magazine
Rather like a potted business school case study, this book gives us the story as it developed at the time ― and that is probably worth the cover price of the book in itself. -- The Financial Times
This book reads like a how-to guide, which perhaps is by design ? Bryar and Carr both were long-time Amazonians and their vantage point is that of an enthusiast rather than a critic. To be sure, Amazon offers much to admire….It’s a safe bet Amazon’s core principles and practices will remain essentially intact, not because Bezos will be watching from the executive suite but because Bryar, Carr and legions of current managers at the company believe in the Amazon way. -- Associated Press
Rather than offering a dull catalog of the company’s 14 leadership principles and three implementation mechanisms, Mr. Bryar and Mr. Carr provide concrete and accessible examples of how these are put into practice across a range of functions, from hiring and communications to organizational and product design. -- New York Times
From the Back Cover
In 2018 Amazon became the world’s second trillion-dollar company after Apple: a remarkable success story for a company launched out of a garage in 1994. How did they achieve this? And how can others learn from this extraordinary success and replicate it?
Colin started at Amazon in 1998; Bill joined in 1999. In Working Backwards, these two long-serving Amazon executives reveal and codify the principles and practices that drive the success of one of the most extraordinary companies the world has ever known. Between them they have twenty-seven years of Amazon experience, much of it during the early noughties – a period of unmatched innovation that brought products and services including Kindle, Amazon Prime, Amazon Studios and Amazon Web Services to life. With this wealth of experience Bryar and Carr offer unprecedented access to the Amazon way as it was refined, articulated and proven to be repeatable, scalable and adaptable. With keen analysis and in-the-room storytelling, and replicable, practical steps for applying it at your own company – no matter the size – they illuminate how Amazon’s fourteen leadership principles inform decision-making at all levels and reveal how the company’s culture has been defined since its founding by four characteristics: customer obsession, long term.
Working Backwards is a guidebook that explains the ground-level practices that ensure the principles are translated into everyday action and flow through all aspects of the business. Working Backwards shows that the success of 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 that anyone can replicate.
About the Author
Colin Bryar joined Amazon in 1998 – four years after its founding – and spent the next twelve years as part of Amazon's senior leadership team as Amazon grew from a domestic (US-only) seller of books to a global, multi-dimensional powerhouse and innovator. Colin served as a Vice President at Amazon, and for two of his years he was 'Chief of Staff' to Jeff Bezos, AKA 'Jeff's shadow', during which he spent each day attending meetings, traveling with, and discussing business and life with Jeff. After Amazon, he and his family relocated to Singapore for two years where Colin served as Chief Operating Officer of e-commerce company RedMart, which was subsequently sold to Alibaba. Colin is co-founder of Working Backwards LLC where he coaches executives at both large and early-stage companies on how to implement the management practices developed at Amazon.
Bill Carr joined Amazon in 1999 and spent more than fifteen years with the company. As Vice President of Digital Media, Bill launched and managed the company's global digital music and video businesses, including Amazon Music, Prime Video, and Amazon Studios. After Amazon, Bill was an Executive In Residence with Maveron, LLC, an early-stage, consumer-only venture capital firm. Bill later served as the Chief Operating Officer of OfferUp, the largest mobile marketplace for local buyers and sellers in the U.S. Today Bill is co-founder of Working Backwards LLC where he coaches executives at both large and early-stage companies on how to implement the management practices developed at Amazon.