The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World's Most Disruptive Company

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In just twenty years, Amazon.com has gone from a start-up internet bookseller to a global company revolutionizing and disrupting multiple industries, including retail, publishing, logistics, devices, apparel, and cloud computing.

But what is at the heart of Amazon.com’s rise to success? Is it the tens of millions of items in stock, the company’s technological prowess, or the many customer service innovations like “one-click”?

As a leader at Amazon who had a front-row seat during its formative years, John Rossman understands the iconic company better than most. From the launch of Amazon’s third-party seller program to their foray into enterprise services, he witnessed it all—the amazing successes, the little-known failures, and the experiments whose outcomes are still in doubt.

In The Amazon Way, Rossman introduces listeners to the unique corporate culture of the world’s largest Internet retailer, with a focus on the fourteen leadership principles that have guided and shaped its decisions and its distinctive leadership culture.

Peppered with humorous and enlightening firsthand anecdotes from the author’s career at Amazon, this revealing business guide is also filled with the valuable lessons that have served Jeff Bezos’s “everything store” so well—providing expert advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, CEOs, and investors alike.

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About the Author:

John Rossman develops and implements innovative business models, technology strategies, and operations improvement for Fortune 500 companies in industry sectors ranging from high tech, to philanthropy to retail. He currently works as a managing director for Alvarez & Marsal, a global, professional services firm that delivers performance improvement, turnaround management, and business advisory services to organizations seeking to transform operations, catapult growth, and accelerate results through decisive action. Prior to A&M, John served as director of enterprise services at Amazon.com, where he developed the Merchants @ program, a B2B network that enables millions of sellers to offer products through Amazon, which now is over 40 percent of all orders. He also ran the relationships with enterprise clients like Target.com, Toys “R” Us, Sears.ca, Marks and Spencer, and the NBA. John lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two sons. He holds a BS in industrial engineering from Oregon State University.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Succinct, engaging and crafted from a high-level viewpoint; a rare open-kimono look at how one of the world’s most innovative companies executes its vision.

 

A former Amazon executive offers an insider’s perspective on the company’s guiding principles. Amazon has had its share of coverage, including Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon(2013). But this lean book cuts a different way. Rossman, an executive at Amazon who left to become a managing director at a consulting firm, weaves his own war stories around Amazon’s 14 leadership principles. While these principles are no secret, Rossman brings them to life with insightful commentary of his own. Each chapter begins with a salient “Leaders at Amazon...” statement, e.g., “Leaders at Amazon focus on the key outputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.” Rossman then offers observations and anecdotes illuminating the corresponding idea. For example, in Chapter 1, “Obsess Over the Customer,” he discusses Amazon’s three customer desires, which the company considers “its holy trinity”—price, selection and availability. Instead of generalities, however, Rossman shares specific insider details that make each principle more dramatic. He relates one instance when Amazon was told by Apple that the company couldn’t deliver 4,000 iPods in time for Christmas. “We were not the kind of company that ruined people’s Christmas because of a lack of availability—not under any circumstances,” writes Rossman, so Amazon purchased the iPods at retail and had them shipped to their warehouseto be repackaged and delivered to customers.  So too is Rossman’s characterization of Jeff Bezos, who comes across as a remarkably driven, if irascible, leader. As for the iPods, Bezos agreed but quipped, “I hope you’ll get in touch with Apple and try to get our money back from the bastards.”

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