I’m a self-professed business cynic when it comes to reading management books. From my point of view, they can be extremely long in the tooth on detail, require heavy, up-front design work for the implementation stage, and can be incredibly difficult to execute for messy, fast-growing businesses. Accordingly, I limit myself to about three such titles annually. One of those was the audio of The Amazon Way by John Rossman. Home run! Then I read it. Grand Slam!
Interview Highlights and Big Ideas
First Impressions of John Rossman
As of this episode, CFO Bookshelf has interviewed nearly 100 best-selling authors and global thought leaders. While I never expect guests to be like Guy Spier, who gave us more than two hours of his time, I’m always curious about how they will come across.
Want my opinion about the senior executive who led a team that launched a successful third-party seller program on Amazon where failure had happened twice before?
Within about two minutes, I knew that I was listening to someone who is humble, a deep and strategic thinker, and a person of substance. On the latter point, I knew that from the book based on his suggested 15th Amazon leadership principle (LP). I also realized this is a person you’d want on your team and have your six o’clock at all times. Highly intelligent? Check that box too.
Finally, I was convinced the late Peter Drucker would have more questions about John’s work than he could ask Mr. Drucker. Lencioni, Collins, and Iger would agree.
The Learning Principles
- Cannot over-focus on just one or a few leadership principles
- The LPs lead to new habits
- LPs vs core values
- John’s 15th LP is based on the golden rule
- Were Amazon’s last two LPs inspired by John’s suggestion?
- Strong processes backed by measurables
- Revisiting the Day One mindset
- The quote, “Every company fails.”
- Long narratives
- Cash flow over margins
- On developing your own LPs
Selected Lines in The Amazon Way
They (the learning principles) are not a poster on the wall … they must be used with wisdom and care.
Five years after an employee is hired, that employee should think, ‘I’m glad I got hired when I did because I wouldn’t get hired now.’
When organizations prioritize output financial goals, they often sacrifice the big picture.
When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences and complete paragraphs, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking.
Good process is absolutely essential. Without defined processes, you can’t scale, you can’t put metrics and instrumentation in place, you can’t manage. But avoiding bureaucracy is essential. Bureaucracy is process run amok.
Favorite Books Mentioned by John Rossman
- Author Website
- Writing and thought-leader platform – you can subscribe to his Substack on that site
- Amazon Author Page
- Executive Speakers Bureaue Profile
You can read all sixteen of the Amazon leadership principles here.