A Critique of the Amazon Leadership Principles, Part 3

Dennis Consorte
5 min readOct 14, 2021
Think Big. Source: Pexels

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 Part 2, I went over three more principles: Invent and Simplify; Are Right, A Lot; and Learn and Be Curious. In this section, I will cover these principles:

  • Hire and Develop the Best
  • Insist on the Highest Standards
  • Think Big

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.

Hire and Develop the Best

Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.

It’s good to hire experienced, talented people, and if you own or work for a for-profit company, then it’s your duty to make hiring decisions that are likely to produce good outcomes. It’s also good to challenge your people to be their best selves. However, if your company culture is centered on raising the performance bar with every new hire, then you’ll end up with a high level of burnout. This level of pressure takes an emotional toll on employees, and they’ll either be stressed out and unhappy, or they’ll quit. Neither of these is a good outcome.

A better way to raise the bar is by building better systems. Apply the principles of frameworks like Lean Six Sigma to improve the quality and efficiency of systems. If you’ve got great systems in place, then your team is set up for success.

Dennis Consorte