Working Backwards

Colin Bryar , Bill Carr

Working Backwards



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The authors of this book have spent a total of 27 years of their working lives at Amazon, holding executive roles, and working closely with Jeff Bezos himself. They lived through the crucial moments of the growth of e-commerce, were in the cockpit when things began to take off, and, along with other high-level executives, helped define the meaning of “being an Amazonian”. Working Backwards tells the story of how this small Seattle company, which sold books online, became the colossal success it is today, with hundreds of thousands of employees, without giving up on its core values: innovation, creating value and obsession for the customer .

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Analysis and key concepts


Jeff Bezos decided to take a chance on the internet, and choose the book market to get his online business started: was launched


The 14 principles of Amazon: the guide that helps keep workers faithful to the company mission regardless of exponential growth


The Amazon Bar Raiser Program: a scalable, repeatable, and formal process which enables you to hire the best employees


Single-threaded leadership for agile innovation: a single person takes care of one single initiative and manages an autonomous team


A typical Amazon meeting starts with a twenty-minute silence, during which participants read a six-page document


“Working backwards”: starting from the desired customer experience then establishing how to create it


Favouring input metrics over output metrics means focussing on everything that is measurable and controllable


The launch of the Amazon Kindle introduced a new reading experience for customers


Amazon Prime revolutionised online shopping forever




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Look back on the pivotal moments in Amazon’s development and growth.
  • Shed some light on the reasons for their extraordinary success.
  • Discover the Amazonian approach to thinking about, managing and doing work.

After graduating from University, Colin Bryar started working for Oracle, focusing on application design and development. Later, along with two of his colleagues, he founded Technologies Group, to help companies that want to move their business online. Among their various customers, there was also a small company called Amazon. Realising its potential, Bryar joined Amazon in 1998, and stayed with the company for 12 years, in various managerial roles. For two years he worked side by side with Jeff Bezos.

After completing his master’s degree in business administration, Bill Carr went to work for Procter & Gamble. Driven by his passion for technology, he launched a software startup, and in 1999, he joined the Amazon team, initially as a video product manager. He stayed with the company for 15 years, reaching senior management roles which brought with them considerable responsibility. In particular, he launched and directed the global development of video and music in digital format, services which are now known as Amazon Music, Prime Video, and Amazon Studios.

Publishing house:

St. Martin’s Press