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Leadership Strategy

Andy Jassy’s Masterpiece Memo

Andy Jassy took charge as the Amazon CEO on July 5th, one of his first acts as CEO was to send a powerful internal masterpiece, his memo to his colleagues.

What is most interesting is the language he uses, the tone he influences with and the number of we and brand references Andy makes.

This is a brilliant masterclass of internal communications and a way to align the company around his vision and how they will get there together.

Andy Jassy centre’s the memo around the past, the present and the future by referencing the team that made it possible and how important workplace culture is to him and the organisation moving forward.

In the email memo, Andy Jassy uses brand references (in orange below) to form togetherness, he uses strong connecting language (in red) to reinforce how important the brand is and how far the company has come as a collective.

Andy makes references to speed (an essential characteristic of Amazon and highlighted in blue) and references former boss and now chairman of Amazon Jeff Bezos (read the focus lessons from Jeff Bezos)

A continued theme throughout the memo is the mention of we (purple), the continued emphasis on how we got here and we are going to continue to do it as a collective.

Another clear statement, the reference to the customers (in yellow) and the demand to stay ahead of the curve and overdeliver.

Andy Jassy also references the collection of services and brands in the Amazon flywheel – connecting the dots to “we” and how important each component is to Amazon’s future success.

The Famous Amazon flywheel was originally drawn on a napkin by Jeff Bezos

When considering your next memo or internal comms, take inspiration from this memo, how?

  • Understand how important we is
  • Referencing how we got here
  • Use powerful language and words people understand and reasonate with
  • Add personality and referencing your own home life to show you are move than just a boss at work
  • While directing teams with references to their internal leadership principles

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The Full Andy Jassy Internal Memo

Amazonians.

Wanted to send a fast note in my first week as Amazon CEO to communicate a few things.

First, I’m really honored to be taking on the role. Have a ton of respect for Jeff, been lucky to work directly for him for nearly 20 years, and know what a big responsibility it is to do this job. You have my commitment, as well as the broader leadership team’s commitment, to stay laser-focused on making customers’ lives better every day, and doing so while also caring for our teammates and helping you grow and succeed in your careers.

Second, I love Amazon. I’ve been here for over 24 years, worked on many of our businesses, and am even more passionate about Amazon than when I arrived in 1997. Working at a company that starts with the customer, and evolves its strategies and tactics backwards from there is unusual. Many companies claim they’ll do this, few actually do. Amazon is rare this way. We’re also inventors. If you want to change outcomes for customers, you have to be willing (and hungry) to constantly invent and reinvent — even if it means sometimes cannibalizing your own businesses. We’ve shown a willingness to make bold, innovative, long-term bets to make customers’ lives better. You should expect that to continue. We also move fast. We’re strategically patient, but tactically impatient. Speed disproportionately matters to customers, and to businesses of all sizes at every stage of their evolution. Few people wake up thinking, “I want my items to come more slowly,” or “I want my customer experience to get stale,” or “I want to work at a company that moves slowly.” Moving quickly to understand what matters to customers, solving their problems, making their lives easier, and continuing to invent on their behalf are at the heart of our culture and will remain so.

Third, just want you to know that you, my fellow Amazonians, matter a lot to me. I started at Amazon when there were just ~250 employees. We now have more than 1.2M employees. It’s happened fast, especially over the last decade as our businesses have grown. At our size, at the pace we’re trying to move for customers, and with our penchant for experimenting, we won’t get everything right. We have issues that we need to work on — some we can solve quickly, others will take longer. But, please know that I care, and that we will work together to make Amazon better every day.

Finally, I want to remind us all about the role Amazon continues to play in the world. It’s pretty extraordinary. We ship and deliver tens of millions of packages to customers every day. That’s when there isn’t a pandemic. During the pandemic, that number meaningfully increased as we helped so many people get their needed PPE, groceries, and other essential items while so many physical stores were closed. Probably like many of you, I’ve had lots of people say to me “thank goodness for Amazon — don’t know how I would have gotten through this without them.” We also provided business continuity to millions of customers via AWS, while helping companies like Zoom , Netflix, Blackboard, and, Epic Games handle the sudden and sustained surge of so many people being planted full-time in their homes (not sure if you have kids who are as obsessed with Epic Games’ Fortnight, but my son seemed very thankful it scaled well :-). Amazon offerings like Prime Video, Amazon Music, Twitch, Audible, Alexa, and FireTV provided people with entertainment and companionship when distractions were most welcome. We created half a million jobs last year, and have continued to lead the way in raising starting wages to at least $15 in the U.S. (more than double the federal minimum wage). Many companies have followed, and we hope many more will. We helped 1.9 million sellers expand their customer bases to a global audience and radically change their earning prospects. We’re working to create a more sustainable planet with The Climate Pledge, our commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040, and we’re now the world’s largest buyer of renewable energy. Last month, we committed $150 million to empower Black-owned businesses with our Black Business Accelerator. And, we’ve created a $2 billion Housing Equity Fund aimed at preserving and creating more than 20,000 affordable homes for families in the Puget Sound, Arlington, and Nashville regions.

This is a pretty remarkable amount of impact in the world, and we’ve just gotten started. It’s so *early* in how we will serve consumers, sellers, developers, businesses, authors, artists, creators, and other partners. We’ll do this together, listening to customers, understanding their needs, and inventing on their behalf to make their lives better.

I look forward to pursuing the adventure together.

Andy