By: Menashe Haskin
My name is Menashe Haskin, CTO and Co-Founder of Edgybees. I have been developing and managing software development for twenty years, including having founded, managed and sold my own company; YMagic Technologies. I regard the time I spent at Amazon as one of the most rewarding, and definitely the most educating, parts of my career. Over the next few paragraphs, I would like to share the principles I bring with me from Amazon into my startup.
The secret to Amazon’s success is not really a secret at all. Amazon’s Leadership Principles, is a short, publicly available piece that accurately captures the companies values and expectations. What makes Amazon unique is the company’s total commitment to these principles. It may be hard to understand without actually experiencing, but Amazon truly lives and breathes by these principles. In contrast with other companies, who may have their manifesto printed on the wall and collectively ignored, Amazon’s philosophy is integral to the day-to-day lives of Amazon workers.
As mentioned, Amazon distilled its philosophy into a set of fourteen Leadership Principles, which serve as the guidelines to everything the company does – from planning inventory, to developing Alexa features, to hiring new employees, everything is performed and weighted according to these guidelines. The principles themselves are surprisingly basic, the sort of things you might hear at a 1.0.1 management class, or that your mother told you growing up. It’s Amazon’s unique commitment to them that makes them work.
I will not review all the principles here – particularly as Amazon is not shy of fine-tuning them over time – however, I will bring a couple of my favorite principles as examples. One principle that resonated with me as a serial entrepreneur is the ‘Bias for Action’. This could be translated as Be Active, or a good decision today is better than a better one tomorrow. Hence, Amazon expects and encourages its workers to take action and risks, accepting that mistakes will happen and they’re part of the price to be paid. I have personally never encountered an example of retribution for trying and failing at Amazon. Calculated risks are necessary to push technology forward – an especially important lesson for any aspiring entrepreneur.
Two other major principles are best discussed together: Deliver Results and Insist on the Highest Standards.
Both make sense – if you don’t deliver products, all your development work and nifty ideas do not amount to much. If you settle for mediocrity, mediocrity is what you’ll get. But they very often contradict – I can make it better, but at a cost of a delay in the schedule. This tension is fundamental between many of the Leadership Principles, and is solved by consulting the queen of them, widely known as ‘Customer Obsession’. Amazon’s first and foremost objective is to delight its customers. Everything it does is targeted to that one aim. A successful entrepreneur puts himself in the customer’s shoes – would a customer be willing to wait for that extra thing, or would they rather have the reduced product earlier?
I would like to touch upon one more Principle, that in my opinion contributes to Amazon’s ability to operate at the extreme velocity it does: Have Backbone, Disagree and Commit. First, an individual is encouraged and expected to have backbone – good ideas originate everywhere, and employees are encouraged to communicate their ideas regardless of seniority or consensus. Second, once a decision is made, regardless of previous disagreements, everyone is expected to commit to the plan and move forward together as a unified team.
I encourage you, the reader, to explore these principles further and implement them in your professional lives – as they have shaped me into the entrepreneur I am today. If what I described here particularly caught your interest, and you wish to become part of a fast growing technology startup, have a look at our career openings and apply. At Edgybees we spend every day developing a cutting-edge product with a highly talented and motivated team.
Be sure to look out for some amazing things coming soon! I can’t wait to show you what we have been working on.
Menashe Haskin, CTO – Edgybees