Case StudyProduct Team: Reviewing Stream Teams,Tracking Strategic Outcomes - Tracking Strategic Outcomes Through Weekly Business Reviews at Amazon

Amazon, a global e-commerce and technology leader, operates in a highly dynamic and competitive environment. To maintain its leadership position and drive continuous growth, Amazon needed a robust mechanism to track strategic outcomes and ensure alignment with its long-term business goals. The challenge was to develop a process that could provide real-time insights, drive accountability, and facilitate informed decision-making across diverse business units.

Tracking Strategic Outcomes Through Weekly Business Reviews at Amazon

The Solution

Amazon adopted the Weekly Business Review (WBR) process as a cornerstone for tracking strategic outcomes within its empowered team structure. The WBR process is a disciplined, data-driven approach that ensures all teams align with the company’s strategic objectives and can quickly adapt to changing market conditions.
The approach involves several key steps and practices:

  • Structured Review Process: The WBR process is a highly structured review mechanism where each business unit, including empowered teams, presents its performance metrics, progress towards strategic goals, and key challenges on a weekly basis. This regular cadence ensures that senior leaders have up-to-date information on the company’s performance.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Amazon emphasizes a data-driven culture. Each WBR session is grounded in detailed performance metrics and KPIs. Business units use dashboards and reports to present data on sales, customer metrics, operational efficiency, and other critical indicators.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: The WBR meetings are attended by cross-functional teams, including senior leadership, product managers, operations, finance, and marketing. This collaborative environment ensures that all perspectives are considered, and decisions are made with a holistic understanding of the business.
  • Accountability and Action Plans: Each team is accountable for its performance metrics and must present action plans to address any areas of concern. This accountability drives a sense of ownership and responsibility among team members.
  • Continuous Improvement: The WBR process fosters a culture of continuous improvement. Teams are encouraged to identify opportunities for innovation, efficiency gains, and customer satisfaction enhancements. The iterative nature of the reviews helps in refining strategies and tactics.
  • Adjusting Metrics for Real Outcomes: An essential aspect of the WBR is the ability to adjust metrics and KPIs when they do not accurately reflect business outcomes. For example, the Catalogue team initially focused on metrics like the number of items listed. However, when these metrics did not correlate with desired business outcomes like customer satisfaction and sales growth, the team updated their KPIs to better align with these outcomes.

Catalogue Team Example
As Amazon shifted from books to becoming the everything store they created an autonomous team called the catalogue team who were tasked with increasing the number of items on sale on
Metric 1: # of items on sale
The team were delivering on their goal but in the WBR it was noticed that overall company costs were increasing and revenue was not. It was discovered that junk items were being added to teh catalogue that customers did not want but were costing money in inventory.

**Metric 2: # of items with page views. **
The intent was that the team needed to identify products that customers actually wanted. But in the WBR review again it was noticed that costs were increasing and revenue was not. The problem was that items were frequently out of stock. The catalogue team were adding items without thinking about the supply chain.

Metric 3: # of items with page views and ready for shipping
This metric finally linked the autonomous teams metric with the desired business impact of increasing revenue.

Outcomes achieved

The implementation of the WBR process at Amazon has led to significant improvements in tracking and managing strategic outcomes within empowered teams.

  • Enhanced Decision-Making: The data-driven insights and regular review cadence enable senior leaders to make informed decisions swiftly, adapting strategies to meet market demands and opportunities.
  • Increased Accountability: The emphasis on accountability ensures that empowered teams are responsible for their performance, driving a culture of ownership and proactive problem-solving.
  • Improved Performance: Continuous monitoring and action plans have led to improvements in key performance metrics, such as customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and revenue growth.
  • Strategic Agility: The WBR process provides Amazon with the agility to pivot quickly in response to market changes, ensuring that the company remains competitive and innovative.
  • Cross-Functional Alignment: The collaborative nature of the WBR meetings fosters cross-functional alignment, ensuring that all parts of the organization work towards common strategic goals.
  • Cultural Reinforcement: The WBR process reinforces Amazon’s culture of high performance, innovation, and customer obsession, driving long-term success.

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