Pods at Amazon

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    At Amazon, small teams focus on small, measurable components that customers value.

    One example is a team that decided to focus on finding phrases that are unique to a particular book. Says Amazon CTO Werner Vogels: “The Statistically-Improbable Phrases service… turns out to be a mechanism that brings very remarkable collections together… Remember that most of our developers are in the loop with customers, so they have a rather good understanding about what our customers like, what they do not like, and what is still missing.”

    Teams are limited in size to about 8-10 people. At Amazon they call them 2-pizza teams: If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.

    Each team has a “fitness function” — a number they are focusing on – and organizes its work in any way it pleases to improve that number. Such data is critical for organizing autonomous pods: “Fact-based decisions overrule the hierarchy” says Bezos. Since each team focuses on a small part of the ecosystem, the company gets closer and closer to the data, tightening up feedback loops and helping the whole system evolve faster.

    Amazon’s approach is supported by a strong platform that allows the whole Amazon website to be developed in a massively parallel fashion by podular teams. When you visit an Amazon page, you might be accessing a hundred or more web services that are orchestrated to give you a personalized experience. Behind the scenes is a sophisticated service-oriented architecture that allows Amazon’s podular teams to access common data and functionality without having to worry about interdependency and conflict. “Any algorithm that requires agreement will eventually become a bottleneck… each node should be able to make decisions based on the local state,” says Amazon CTO Werner Vogels. Because of the architecture, services can evolve in parallel without affecting each other.

    More about pods here.

    Mexicanwave, brend∆n, libraryman, and 6 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. ourfounder 47 months ago | reply

      I'm not sure I agree with the idea of a "buy button" pod. I would love a "Front end" team that launches pods at regular intervals. (Or a Front end pod with spores). That way the pod members do not get stuck being a guy in the "buy button department" which has to sometimes interact with the "credit card checking department" and the "bypass shopping cart department".

      A buy button pod that has a very short lifespan seems awesome and sustainable, though.

    2. dgray_xplane 47 months ago | reply

      I'm not sure if there is a "buy button" team per se, but I do know that each team has a micro-focus on one piece of functionality and the associated feedback number. I also believe teams can form around a new idea they want to pursue.

    3. AlexDbk 47 months ago | reply

      oh so that's why amazon is so crappy.

      thanks for the insight!

    4. dgray_xplane 47 months ago | reply

      Yes, that's why Amazon is so crappy. It's also why Amazon is number 100 on the Fortune 500 with $24 billion in revenue.

    5. AlexDbk 47 months ago | reply

      yeah, i know about all that. it's just that amazon's a monopolist that is very user-unfriendly so to speak. typical situation for a monopolist site. same with facebook for instance.

    6. dgray_xplane 47 months ago | reply

      I think of Amazon as very user-friendly. Surprised to hear that you don't think so and I would love to hear more about that.

    7. AlexDbk 39 months ago | reply

      One of the things that stroke me recently is the following...

      I'm looking for a snow globe, find one, open a product page, look for a link to a category that would allow me to see all the snow globes available... and fail to find one.

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