Review of “Working Backwards” by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr

“Working Backwards” by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr is a business book brought to us by two Amazon executives. Both long-serving, their careers have witnessed the launch and success of many Amazon revolutionary services such as Amazon Prime and Kindle. Their business book is both a guidebook for success and a narrative behind the scenes at Amazon.

Within their business book, Bryar and Carr explain the belief that success on this scale is not necessarily gained by one great idea or one extraordinary person. They demonstrate their theory of following and implementing a certain strategy, with specific stages and principles, in order to achieve success whilst meeting business goals. As well as providing a guide for aspiring entrepreneurs, this book gives readers a backstage pass to the world of Amazon with never before shared look into their culture, leadership, and operational practice.

Summary of Working Backwards

This business book is split into two parts. In the first part, we learn about the exact operational principles and processes used every day at Amazon. These include unique leadership and organizational culture principles. Each principle is broken down into detail with an explanation of why this was introduced, and how it works in practice inside Amazon.

In the second part of “Working Backwards,” the authors give us a more in-depth look at how things work operationally. The authors detail four, very real and very relevant, product launches from Amazon’s success catalog while describing how each of the principles and processes was used during the projects, and how each contributed positively to the outcome.

Who would I recommend book Working Backwards to?

Anyone who wants some clear, easy-to-digest business advice that they can easily adapt to suit their own organization. This is simply a great practical guide for improving business goals and meeting objectives. I believe that the principles and processes could be relevant to other industries and sectors so if your business is not retail or sales based don’t overlook this, it is definitely still worth a read.

Who would I NOT recommend book Working Backwards to?

If business strategies are not of interest to you I wouldn’t pick this up. If you are not exploring practical advice and do not have a genuine interest in organization planning and improvement this is not the book for you.

Do I think Working Backwards is worth reading?

Yes. Unlike a lot of business books, it is clear and easy to read. Chapters do not drag with little to no insight information. The book is straight to the point using real-life examples rather than hypothetical- irrelevant scenarios, which I have often found in other business improvement books.

Who are Colin Bryar and Bill Carr, authors of Working Backwards?

Both Bryar and Carr can claim long service history at Amazon. Bryar in 1998 shortly followed by Carr in 1999. Both had executive status at Amazon and this is their first book.

Did I learn lessons from Working Backwards?

I learned a hell of a lot about Amazon and what actually makes them unique from competitors. Plenty of large organizations claim to be unique, special, or different but never actually explain how. This book drills down into the information and delivers it to the reader.

Similar business books to Working Backwards

Before I started this book I, wrongly, assumed it may be similar to “7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy” by Hamilton Helmer. I am pleased to confirm this was not the case. Unfortunately, I found Helmer’s advice and guidance lacking in real-life examples. As the scenarios were hypothetical and often seemed unrealistic, I struggled to stay engaged. Unlike Helmer, Bryar and Carr keep the reader interested whilst delivering a practical guide with useful and thought-provoking advice.

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