Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2016 Contents remarkably repeatable and relevant in
vastly different business categories that
span the virtual and physical domains,
from e-commerce and cloud comput-
ing services to the Kindle and Fire tablet
product lines. As legend has it, Bezos con-
ceived the business model on a napkin.
The scribbled-on, now framed napkin
hangs on a wall in Bezos’ sixth-floor office
on A mazon’s corporate campus. (See Fig-
ure 1.) The drawing is a flywheel diagram
referred to as the “virtuous cycle.” At the
center of the flywheel is growth, around
which are selection, customer experience,
traffic and sellers. Directly connected to
growth is lower cost structure, which
leads to lower prices, which feed back
into the customer experience.
In a little over two decades, Amazon’s
strategy of creating unrivaled economies
of scale and ruthlessly pursuing effi-
ciencies has catapulted the company to
dizzying heights. Despite the exponential
growth, market indicators suggest that
this is only the beginning. That sense
of a perennially new beginning creates
a feeling that every day is day one for
Amazon. This launch-day type of energy
permeates all levels of the company, even
after 20-plus years of endeavoring to be
Earth’s most customer-centric company.
All the while, the Army and its Acquisi-
tion Corps battle complacency, in part by
placing select members of the workforce
in positions to leverage lessons learned
from the best companies in industry to
ensure the continued distinction of field-
ing the best-equipped fighting force in
TO SHAPE ‘AMAZONIANS’
Talent management, an increasingly
prominent theme in A rmy acquisition,
is especially vital to filling Amazon’s
expanding ranks as the company grows
with its market share —from 30,000
employees in 2010 to over 230,000 in
2016. Recruiting, retaining and develop-
ing human capital, while imbuing the
expanding workforce with the mindset
that it is still day one, is no simple task
in the technology space. Within the
tech industry, specialists in the science,
technology, engineering a nd mathemat-
ics fields are scarce and in high demand.
Attracting the best in the human
resources, marketing, program manage-
ment and procurement disciplines is also
Like the company’s business model,
Amazon’s leadership principles pervade
day-to-day operations and shaped my
initial expectations. Dialogue with my
director touched on tasks related to
each. Amazon seeks to draw and develop
employees who share these principles:
• Customer obsession.
• Invent and simplify.
• Are right, a lot.
• Learn and be curious.
• Hire and develop the best.
• Insist on the highest standards.
• Think big.
• Bias for action.
• Earn trust.
• Dive deep.
• Have backbone; disagree and commit.
• Deliver results.
If these leadership principles seem a lot
like the core values of military person-
nel, they are. The parallels are not lost on
Amazon recruiters, either, as they develop
comprehensive initiatives to attract,
recruit and develop military talent. Colby
Williamson, a Marine Corps veteran
and recruiting manager with Amazon,
believes that, “Regardless of someone’s
military occupational specialty, branch
or rank, the leadership skills developed
while in the armed forces closely resem-
ble Amazon’s 14 leadership principles.
“At Amazon, we look for leaders who are
customer-centric, have a bias for action
and think outside the box. Our culture is
fast-paced, and our leaders are given a lot
of ownership to make business decisions.
This makes for a natural fit for military
leaders, where they can also find a strong
sense of belonging with their peers.”
Amazon believes that military person-
nel who live by an ethos of loyalty, duty,
respect, selfless service, honor and integ-
rity already mirror Amazonian dogma.
HOW THE EXCHANGES BEGAN
The genesis for military personnel
exchanges with industry was a critical
requirement to establish officers with
skills reflecting particular industrial prac-
tices and procedures that are necessary in
materiel acquisition and logistics lead-
ers. In response, DOD and its branches
of service developed relationships with
companies in the military-industrial
In this spirit of innovation, Carter has proposed Force
of the Future talent management initiatives that depart
dramatically from the status quo. No longer is the
up-or-out officer promotion system sacrosanct, as DOD
explores more flexible career tracks.
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