A Critique of the Amazon Leadership Principles, Part 2

Dennis Consorte
5 min readOct 13, 2021
I Love Simplicity. Source: Pixabay

In Part 1 of my Critique of the Amazon Leadership Principles, I covered the first two principles of Amazon’s guiding documentation: Customer Obsession and Ownership. In this next part, I will critique the next three (3) leadership principles:

  • Invent and Simplify
  • Are Right, A Lot
  • Learn and Be Curious

Each section begins with a quote from the original document, followed by my critique. This is a work-in-progress and I acknowledge that my critique is subject to… critique. This is Medium, so please feel free to highlight those sections with which you agree or disagree, and leave your comments.

Invent and Simplify

Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here.” As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

I agree with all of this. As someone who incorporates elements of Lean Six Sigma and Agile methodologies like Scrum into my processes, I’m always looking for ways to improve on both efficiency and quality.

What I will say is that the last part of that statement, “we may be misunderstood for long periods of time” is extremely important. Timing matters, and the timing for many innovative ideas is wrong — people are not ready for such transformations in their lives. When the timing is off, you have a few options. You could try to boldly impress your idea on people, and if you’re a big company like Amazon, you might succeed. Or, you could scrap the idea entirely and focus your energy on other things.

In many cases, I like to think about ways to acclimate people to new ideas. This comes from the psychological principle of shaping, and it’s integral to the way marketing funnels are designed. Point people in the direction of your idea with things that they already…