Episode #1572 Colin Bryar: The Thinking That Powers The Amazon Machine

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Twenty years from now, the case study on Amazon will not only showcase an unparalleled customer obsession, and an always evolving invention machine - perhaps more importantly - it will shine a light on exemplary leadership.  Two such leaders - Colin Bryar and Bill Carr chat with Moe about the methods & principles that make Amazon -  Amazon. 


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Colin Bryar

Senior Advisor, Author, and Speaker View Full Profile

Why it's Always Day-One

As an early adaptor and an avid reader, I was one who was intrigued by the idea of Amazon, and the possibility of having books delivered, particularly back in 1995.  Not only did it bring about convenience; but it was also a glimpse of a future that was going to be very different than the present.  

Obviously, a lot has changed since; still my fascination with the organization has only increased.  As a keen observer and student of individual and organizational greatness; I don’t know of another institution over the past two decades that has reimagined the aspects of how we work and live as Amazon has.  From supreme convenience, personalized recommendations, and insanely-fast shipping, to cloud infrastructure and organizational excellence - Amazon continues to exemplify how a modern organization behaves when it truly does obsess over its customers. 

Of course, that experience we feel as consumers, carries with it a steep price for those who help bring it to life - and rarely has there been an accurate picture of what keeps that invention machine churning - that’s why I was excited to see Colin Bryar and Bill Carr’s book - Working backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon.  In it, they synthesize their combined three decades of ‘being Amazonian’ into a thinking framework, and a set of tools that will invite you to rethink the manner in which you approach company building, operational excellence, and your own personal reinvention. 

A forty-five minute conversation hardly captures the depth of their imagination; still you’ll get a sense of what “Day-one” is really all about.  Here are the areas we discuss:

  • How ‘Being Amazonian’ shaped who they are - personally and professionally?
  • What the outsiders routinely get wrong about Amazon?
  • The evolution of Jeff Bezos’ leadership philosophy.
  • The Leadership principles and how they drive all decisions - large and small.
  • Amazon’s decision making framework and the difference between a type 1 and type 2 decision?
  • Why input metrics are a much better predictor of growth?
  • The leader’a evolution inside Amazon - from “What’ to “How’ to “Who”.
  • The management science that multiplies output and ignites greatness in others?
  • Why it’s important that leaders disconfirm their beliefs?
  • The philosophy behind the ‘Bar Raiser’ hiring framework and its impact on retention?
  • Resources: