Think Like Amazon

Have Backbone; Disagree & Commit with John Olsen

June 07, 2021 Tyler Wallis Episode 14
Think Like Amazon
Have Backbone; Disagree & Commit with John Olsen
Show Notes

John Olsen spent 7 years at Amazon as VP of Kindle Human Resources and VP of HR for Worldwide Operations. During these years of rapid global expansion for Amazon, John had to rely on proven principles and models to help ensure teams were making strong decisions, avoiding bias, and committed behind key goals. Since leaving Amazon in 2019, John has helped companies and boards learn to have backbone, disagree and commit in his roles as an advisor and investor. 


During our conversation, John shares how the Have Backbone, Disagree and Commit principle integrates with the other Amazon leadership principles, mental models for how to determine when a decision needs to be debated further, how to foster healthy disagreement with remote teams, and much more. 



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More from the episode: 


3:40 – Why you can’t just disagree and commit without having backbone

6:25 – How to recognize when it’s time to move a team forward with a decision

7:49 – 6-page memos as a tool to facilitate having backbone

9:40 – How to create a culture where it’s safe to respectfully disagree with other leaders

14:00 – Decision or document bar raisers

23:00 – How to encourage disagreement and speaking up with remote teams

26:30 – When to commit and when to continue to disagree

31:00 – Applying the leadership principle in advisor and governance work