How Amazon Eliminated Team Dependencies

Small teams. Great coordination. Everybody knows everybody else.

Big Teams. Zero coordination. Too many dependencies. Nobody knows who is the owner.

Sounds familiar?

Every growing company goes through this phase. Most slow down, but Amazon is one company that has set the highest benchmark for all.

Typically, companies end up creating committees and hire consultants to smoothen the process, but Amazon took the tech and product route to solve this.

That is, APIs.

In my tenure at Amazon I heard him (Jeff Bezos) say many times that if we wanted Amazon to be a place where builders can build, we needed to eliminate communication, not encourage it.

He suggested that each software team should build and clearly document a set of application program interfaces (APIs) for all their systems/services. An API is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications and defining how software components should interact.

In other words, Jeff’s vision was that we needed to focus on loosely coupled interaction via machines through well-defined APIs rather than via humans through emails and meetings.

This would free each team to act autonomously and move faster.

Excerpts from the book, Working Backwards by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr.

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