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In other words, if you have high standards in one area, do you automatically have high standards elsewhere? I believe high standards are domain specific, and that you have to learn high standards separately in every arena of interest. When I started Amazon, I had high standards on inventing, on customer care, and thankfully on hiring.

I had to learn and develop high standards on all of that my colleagues were my tutors. Understanding this point is important because it keeps you humble. You can consider yourself a person of high standards in general and still have debilitating blind spots. There can be whole arenas of endeavor where you may not even know that your standards are low or non-existent, and certainly not world class. Recognition and Scope. What do you need to achieve high standards in a particular domain area?

First, you have to be able to recognize what good looks like in that domain. Let me give you two examples.

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One is a sort of toy illustration but it makes the point clearly, and another is a real one that comes up at Amazon all the time. Perfect Handstands.


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A close friend recently decided to learn to do a perfect free-standing handstand. No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good. She decided to start her journey by taking a handstand workshop at her yoga studio. So, she hired a handstand coach. In the very first lesson, the coach gave her some wonderful advice.

The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. Six-Page Narratives. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. Some have the clarity of angels singing. They are brilliant and thoughtful and set up the meeting for high-quality discussion. Sometimes they come in at the other end of the spectrum. The writing example is very different.

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The difference between a great memo and an average one is much squishier. It would be extremely hard to write down the detailed requirements that make up a great memo. Nevertheless, I find that much of the time, readers react to great memos very similarly. They know it when they see it. The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. Beyond recognizing the standard and having realistic expectations on scope, how about skill?

Surely to write a world class memo, you have to be an extremely skilled writer? Is it another required element? In my view, not so much, at least not for the individual in the context of teams. But they both do need to recognize high standards for those things and teach realistic expectations on scope. Benefits of High Standards. Building a culture of high standards is well worth the effort, and there are many benefits. The work that gets done when no one is watching. And finally, high standards are fun!


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  7. So, the four elements of high standards as we see it: they are teachable , they are domain specific , you must recognize them, and you must explicitly coach realistic scope. For us, these work at all levels of detail.


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    Everything from writing memos to whole new, clean-sheet business initiatives. We hope they help you too. Insist on the Highest Standards.

    The Wonderful and Terrible Habit of Buying Too Many Books

    Recent Milestones. The high standards our leaders strive for have served us well. We take none of them for granted. There are now more than 30, skills for Alexa from outside developers, and customers can control more than 4, smart home devices from 1, unique brands with Alexa. The foundations of Alexa continue to get smarter every day too. These semi-supervised learning techniques reduced the amount of labeled data needed to achieve the same accuracy improvement by 40 times! We finished with the launch of our interactive shopping experience with Calvin Klein, including pop-up shops, on-site product customization, and fitting rooms with Alexa-controlled lighting, music, and more.

    We recently launched Amazon Wind Farm Texas, our largest wind farm yet, which generates more than 1,, megawatt hours of clean energy annually from over turbines. We have plans to host solar energy systems at 50 fulfillment centers by , and have launched 24 wind and solar projects across the U. In we celebrated the year anniversary of Frustration-Free Packaging, the first of a suite of sustainable packaging initiatives that have eliminated more than , tons of packaging materials over the past 10 years. In addition, in alone our programs significantly reduced packaging waste, eliminating the.

    And across the world, Amazon is contracting with our service providers to launch our first low-pollution last-mile fleet. Already today, a portion of our European delivery fleet is comprised of low-pollution electric and natural gas vans and cars, and we have over 40 electric scooters and e-cargo bikes that complete local urban deliveries.

    The credit for these milestones is deserved by many. Amazon is , employees.

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    Path Ahead. This year marks the 20th anniversary of our first shareholder letter, and our core values and approach remain unchanged. We know there is much we can do better, and we find tremendous energy in the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. A huge thank you to each and every customer for allowing us to serve you, to our shareowners for your support, and to Amazonians everywhere for your ingenuity, your passion, and your high standards.

    As always, I attach a copy of our original letter. It remains Day 1. Jeffrey P. Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Reprinted from the Annual Report. To our shareholders:. But this is Day 1 for the Internet and, if we execute well, for Amazon.

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    Today, online commerce saves customers money and precious time. Tomorrow, through personalization, online commerce will accelerate the very process of discovery. We have a window of opportunity as larger players marshal the resources to pursue the online opportunity and as customers, new to purchasing online, are receptive to forming new relationships. The competitive landscape has continued to evolve at a fast pace. Many large players have moved online with credible offerings and have devoted substantial energy and resources to building awareness, traffic, and sales.

    Our goal is to move quickly to solidify and extend our current position while we begin to pursue the online commerce opportunities in other areas. We see substantial opportunity in the large markets we are targeting. This strategy is not without risk: it requires serious investment and crisp execution against established franchise leaders. We believe that a fundamental measure of our success will be the shareholder value we create over the long term.

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    This value will be a direct result of our ability to extend and solidify our current market leadership position. The stronger our market leadership, the more powerful our economic model. Market leadership can translate directly to higher revenue, higher profitability, greater capital velocity, and correspondingly stronger returns on invested capital. Our decisions have consistently reflected this focus. A library of mostly unread books is far more inspiring than a library of books already read. There's nothing more exciting than finishing a book, and walking over to your shelves to figure out what you're going to read next.

    So, the solution here is to just slow down on the buying, not cut it out entirely, which means things like limiting myself to one book per bookstore visit. As I start to chip away at the huge list of Books I Want To Read, I'm sure that list will deepen and broaden in ways I can't predict, so eventually the library may be more balanced and not so skewed toward books I haven't read, but it will never be fixed row of read books. Libraries aren't meant to be intractable, they're meant to change, and they change by buying books.

    As long as I don't trip over those piles of books on my floor and break my leg, it seems to me that having too many books on your hands is a pretty wonderful problem to have. This article originally appeared as a post on our PWxyz blog, which is no longer online. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here. To subscribe, click here. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw pubservice.

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