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Publisher's Summary

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 started at Amazon in 1998; Bill 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. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Colin Bryar and Bill Carr (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Essential for any leader in any industry." (Kim Scott, best-selling author of Radical Candor)

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very enjoyable and informative

excellent insight into one of the most innovative organisations of our time . enjoyed the detail and examples offered

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting anecdotes, but often frustrating

The performance and narration was superb!

But the lessons learned are sometimes so frustrating, we don’t allow direct reports to conduct interviews, and the reason why was a bad manager!

Interesting insight, and some great takeaways.

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A must for all business owners

Fantastic listening. Provides clear doable advice for improving business culture and processes. Highly recommended to people running businesses of all sizes.

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  • Bender442
  • 21-08-2021

Excellent practical approaches, relatable examples

I especially enjoyed that the authors first covered the methodology and approach in an accessible way, and then showed how to apply these lessons in a broad set of familiar examples.

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  • Steve
  • 05-08-2021

Gets pretty boring pretty quickly

Possibly better to get the printed version. The ‘story’ is uninspiring. In the end it’s a ‘todo’ for how Amazon work.

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  • mdu
  • 03-07-2021

Inspirational and eye opening

I’ve leaned a lot from this book. In fact I’ve listened to it twice now and each time I learn something new. I highly recommend it for anyone in corporate or entrepreneur.

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  • Andrew
  • 17-05-2021

An incredible case study

Very thorough, in depth play book for how to scale big. As a startup guy some things were hard to relate to, but generally there is so much business gold here, it’s a must listen/read.

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  • Michael
  • 08-05-2021

A great new book that'll change busines management

I've come across some of the concepts in this book before.
But like 2 pizza teams, I didn't know it had been superseded by single threaded teams / leaders.

I knew about working backwards but not The idea in detail and just how much Amazon embodies the process and how useful it is.

The fly wheel of growth is a very apt metaphor and explains well how to grow but how if you aren't adding energy to the wheel it'll eventually slow down.

The explanation by the end of how Amazon Prime video and Amazon Studios came to be as well as AWS was great even if Kindle was a more clear cut story.

Even the relatively important point of ensuring you reward people for long term performance not short term gains is a message people need to really hear.

I highly recommend this book to ANYONE who's running a business, in a business or thinking of managing projects even if it's in a government setting.
Especially the point about working backwards, Press Release FAQs and narratives instead of power point slides can be transformative.

Read or listen to this book.

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  • Karolina
  • 03-06-2021

Probably the best business book I ever read

Very clear communication of ideas and excellent moments of insights that had me scrambling for a notebook to take notes.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Fred
  • 17-04-2022

Overpromises and underdelivers

In the first half of the book there are some interesting insights into Amazon management practices.

The second half of the book degenerates into a cult-like sycophantic Jeff-fest. Many of the outcomes seems retrofitted to the management principles rather than have a clear cause and effect.

Finally, we are hit with a pitch for consulting work.

The other striking characteristic of the book is the non-contribution of Bezos himself. We are merely referred to his shareholder letters.

You are better off reading Jim Collins' Good to Great which has obviously been an inspiration for Bezos.

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  • jdp
  • 28-03-2022

Insightful insider account

The authors clearly care a great deal about Amazon and it’s processes and it’s easy to understand why—who wouldn’t after witnessing such tremendous success?

Fascinating to hear about the formation of Prime and AWS, the latter in particular given its outsized prominence in the world of technology.

One could easily get the impression that there are few to no downsides to any of the principles that the book postulates are responsible for Amazon’s tremendous success. They may be correct, but they may also not be and it would have been interesting to hear more discussion along these lines.

Overall, an enjoyable listen full of insider stories. An easy recommendation.

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  • ASHISH SINHA
  • 23-02-2022

Amazing book on Amazon thought process

Great book and narration of Amazon ways of working and working backwards with the customer experience at the centre of everything

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  • Principatus
  • 13-02-2022

I’m not a fan of Amazon but…

I’m not a fan of Amazon on the basis that it’s business model and strategy is that they are willing to sell items at a loss for a long time in order to beat out every small retailers who have staff to pay and pay the bills each month by breaking even. And I do think society is worse off because of that and that they crush the dreams of many small entrepreneurs, who started businesses to support their families.

However this book was a fascinating insight into the teams and culture of the business. There’s a few nuggets of wisdom.

The main thing I took away from the book, probably reading between the lines a bit, is that if an entrepreneur is worried about their next payroll and bills they can’t concentrate on the big picture. Also you can’t compete against businesses who’ll see your whole value proposition as having the weakness of needing to pay for itself so you can pay the bills, and so give it away as a “by the way it’s included”.

Team dynamics and how they manage inputs are great. I’ve a feeling I will re read this book.

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  • WualeSeb
  • 10-02-2022

Inspiring and thought provoking.

Although many of the concepts within this book are widely known these days, the context provided by the narrative of how they came to pass and how they were applied as enablers within Amazon brings them to life. Recommended!

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  • Faruk
  • 25-01-2022

Very Insightful

Great insights to how the Amazon machine works, how great products are built and developed at Amazon like this very one we are using. Learnt a lot from it.

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  • OH
  • 24-12-2021

Interesting

Thin on detail, but states it is an overview. Still interesting book to listen to.

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  • Steven T.
  • 23-12-2021

Well worth reading

Lot's of interesting insights and valuable lessons. Much easier to work on the long term goals if you have deep pockets.

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  • Matt Evans
  • 08-11-2021

Great insight into how amazon has evolved

This is a go-to case study for business leaders on how amazon disseminated their leadership culture to evolve each major product area into globally recognised products and services. In the past 20+ years amazon has gone from dominating physical distribution to leading digital services while a lot of businesses have changed very little. Everyone in business can learn something from this book.

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