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  • Writer's picture Kaveh Kalantar H.

Mapping Amazon's LPs to KMM

Most people heard about 14 Amazon's leadership principles such as Customer Obsession, Ownership, Frugality, Bias for action, learning, and being curious.

I first heard about these principles in 2005-6. I got more insights as I read Jeff Bezos's annual Shareowner's letter in addition to conversions that I had in the last few years with Amazonian friends. You can see the traces of these principles in every annual Shareowner's letter. For example, Jeff Bezos stopped using Shareholder and start using "Shareowner" to be congruent with Amazon's Ownership principle. Every employee you talk to knows about these LPs - as they call it - or they are supposed to know, and follow. Every new hire is assessed based on these expected behaviors, and every employee is expected to act based on these values and principles - the alternative is not desirable.

Last week, when David J. Anderson brought the topic of mapping the Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) to Amazon's Leadership Principles, I was the first to show interest and enthusiasm. After some back and forth in the KMM Slack Group, David decided to complete the mapping.

I am happy that we now have a map of Amazon's leadership principles to the Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) at KMM.Plus website. AMZLPs-KMM Mapping is another helpful content for managers who want to get inspiration from Amazon's LPs and expect practical guidance in putting them into action and lead with confidence. It is also a unique and valuable tool for Amazon's leaders - You can now use KMM to improve Your organization significantly, as Amazon is not without flaws.

I love these LPs and How Amazon "tries" to uses them. That is why I added them to the Cultural Hacking and Social Engineering section of my Kanban Coaching Practices (KCP) class in June. One of the techniques you will learn at KCP class is using Decision Filters to influence the culture or hack the culture. Here is an example from Amazon's LPs and How Amazonian are supposed to use these principles at work.

Value: Bias for Action

Leadership Principle Decision Filter: Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk-taking.

More specific decision filters:

Deal with problems quickly so that others can make progress.

Move forward promptly with projects at hand, even when some information is missing.

Make little progress toward a solution rather than trying to find the perfect solution.

If we give it a little bit of Lean-Agile flavor:

Value Trumps flow. Expedite at the expense of flow to maximize value to the customer

Make incremental progress with imperfect information, rather than delaying and waiting for perfect information. Therefore, Perfect is the enemy of good enough.

I first witnessed Bias for Action's manifestation in 2004 when I faced an issue with my order. I bought a training book that had a CD. When the shipment arrived, the CD (which was the most important part) was not included. I immediately contacted Amazon support and informed them about the problem. Instead of putting me on hold or not accepting my complaint, the support agent told me not to be worried as another Book with a CD is on its way and will be with me in a few days for free. That's it. Fast, smooth, polite, and I felt valuable.

Since then, I was hooked and was amazed by their "customer obsession." That support agent behaved precisely according to amazon's decision filters, leadership principles, and values—perfect congruence. Bias for Action + Customer Obsession + Ownership, and Long Term Thinking in one instance.

A few weeks ago, I talked to a manager at Amazon. I told him that the key competitive advantage of amazon is not AWS, or or Kindle, or any other product or service; it is not its logistics and warehousing capability; it is not the scale. I believe, the main competitive advantage of Amazon is the Leadership Principles - Given They are practiced at all levels of the organization.

As long as these values are held, and behaviors (Decisions + Actions) stay congruent with values, then adopting proper operational practices will happen naturally and smoothly, and Amazon's desired business outcomes will come as a result. The opposite is also true, faking following LPs will collapse Amazon in long term.

Join a Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) and Kanban Coaching Class (KCP) to dive in more.

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