Working Backwards

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What to expect

‘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.

Critics Review

  • 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

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