Amazon 6th Principle: Insist on the Highest Standards

The sixth Leadership Principle of the Amazon Way is:

Insist on the Highest Standards
Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.

Here the point is how to balance Insists on Highest Standards with Delivers Results. For that, we have to realize that:

  1. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well
  2. Doing things well is really enjoyable (and doing things poorly is not)
  3. Building something that goes unused is really discouraging (and building useful things is rewarding)

All this is about quality. We don’t have to sacrifice quality, since it is bad for customers and it is bad for developers. We should very very carefully pick the features that do get built since few things are worse than wasted labor and unused products (inventory).

Thus, when making tradeoffs, we should always cut features instead of cutting quality or completeness of the features that have already been chosen. We should also set aside time for experimentation, learning, and exploration where the quality of the learning is the aim (the product quality is irrelevant in this case).

Summing-up: When facing the tendency to lean towards delivering results now over the patient, deliberate, thorough approach necessary for creating products of the highest quality, Amazon always chooses the second one.

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