Note to Commoncog members: it’s probably a good idea to listen to this in the context of the Becoming Data Driven in Business Series. For non-members, you might want to read this first: Goodhart’s Law Isn’t As Useful As You Might Think.
Colin Bryar joined Amazon really early in its life and spent twelve years as part of Amazon's senior leadership team.
For two of those years he was 'Technical Assistant' to Jeff Bezos, as known as 'Jeff's shadow', during which he spent each day attending meetings, traveling with, and discussing business and life with Jeff. After Amazon, he and his family relocated to Singapore for two years where Colin served as Chief Operating Officer of e-commerce company RedMart, which was subsequently sold to Alibaba. Along with his ex-Amazonian colleague Bill Carr, Colin is co-author of Working Backwards, a book on an insider's look at how Amazon works. Bill and Colin are co-founders of Working Backwards LLC, where they coach executives at both large and early-stage companies on how to implement the management practices developed at Amazon.
This podcast is a really deep dive into the practice of the Amazon Weekly Business Review, which remains to this day one of Amazon's secret operating weapons, and a big part of what makes for a great operator.
- Working Backwards, book: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/53138083
- Working Backwards https://www.workingbackwards.com/
- Commoncog’s summary of Working Backwards: https://commoncog.com/working-backwards/
00:01:31 Colin's Background
00:04:39 Joining Amazon
00:07:42 The Data Situation in Early Amazon
00:10:09 Being Jeff Bezos's Shadow
00:12:50 Living in Singapore
00:14:38 Writing Working Backwards with Bill Carr
00:17:08 The History of the Weekly Business Review
00:22:30 How the Amazon WBR is different
00:25:15 Customer Experience Metrics vs Business Metrics
00:27:43 Controllable Input Metrics vs Output Metrics
00:37:36 What a Typical WBR Looks Like
00:42:08 Why Glancing at Metrics is Important
00:43:53 What kinds of discussions should you have in the WBR?
00:46:14 Understanding Variation
00:51:02 Stories About Controllable Input Metrics
00:59:41 Applying the WBR to internal business functions
01:01:42 Introducing the WBR to a New Company
01:09:51 Applying the WBR to New Products
01:16:27 Not Using Surveys as Primary Research on Customers
01:20:36 What Makes for a Good Operator?
01:22:05 Operating Cadence
01:24:14 What Colin Wishes All Operators Knew Tomorrow
01:25:28 What You'd Wish You'd Known
01:27:58 Would Many of These Lessons Apply to Early Stage Startups?
Originally published , last updated .