Ownership, Invent and Simplify - Amazon 16 leadership Principles

Welcome to part 2 of 16 Amazon principles, we previously talked about Customer obsession, in this part we will talk about ownership and Invent and Simplify. What is ownership? What does Invent and Simplify means? How does Amazon fit that into their interview questions? How does amazon fit them into the interview questions? Let us find that in detail


Starting with the ownership, in our simple terms we know what ownership means to own something, however, this is how Amazon sees it

"Leaders are owners. They think long-term and don't sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say "that's not my job."

Let us break this statement down

"They never say "that's not my job"

Amazon does not want you to be just an employee it wants you as a part of their company an integral part, it expects you to be proactive and not set boundaries for your work. For instance, if there is an issue arising in another department but you could solve it Amazon expects you to come forward and provide any assistance you could irrespective of your current department.

"They think long term and don't sacrifice long-term value for short-term results"

Be a leader, act like one, doesn't matter what your job role is never turn down the opportunity to build a team. Think about the future the plans you laid out for the team you are building might be great as of now but also consider their value in a long run. Amazon is looking for a team, not employees and it wants you to take initiative to be a part of the team.

Possible questions and techniques to answer

Great! Now you know what Amazon wants so what do you do now? You go for the interview thinking you just have to say I am ready to help across the team and this is the question they ask

''Describe a project or idea (not necessarily your own) that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome? (Interview genie)"

That doesn't look like what we expected, you were expecting any question suggesting you are willing to help your team however here the question is about you taking the charge of an entire project that is not your own instead of just helping. Chances are you might not be able to think of such an encounter especially if you are pretty early in your career. What to do now? Let us see how we can answer this question

Following the STAR method

We discussed the STAR method that Amazon has mentioned on their site. It asks for your situation, task, action, and results.


The question already asks for a situation, so that is already a requirement here. Think of any such experience where you were able to take agency of the work, the question gives you the liberty to talk about your own department first and if there is an example available then you can add that in. If you are a fresher think about any college projects that you did, think about the time when you were able to take authority and leadership into your hands.


Fill in the details, what the project was about? What was the problem associated with it (this is different from the situation where the problem is related to results here we can talk about the cause of the problem)? Do not forget to add all the important details of the work.


Now talk in detail about what you did, keep in mind that focus on the action in this part do not mix and match other details here. Focus on what you did if important add how you did it. Here you can mention if you were able to delegate the last-minute work and if you were able to think of a Plan B.


Then comes the most important part results, this is the most important part of the answer, keep it detailed and take credit for your work. If you were able to find a bug in the software which was the reason for the crash, mention it.

Invent and Simplify

Coming to the next principle invent and simplify. This is one of the most important principles but this is also known to give candidates some moments of panic due to the word invent. We know how important invention is and we also know its difficulty. So, if you come across this question in your interview should you also join the moments of panic? Well, no, the invention mentioned here is not some Nobel prize-winning invention they are talking about this is what Amazon means

"Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by "not invented here." As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time."

If we break this down, we get,

"Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify"

The highlight here is innovation, invention, and simplification. To answer this principle, you just have to be a great thinker, this principle talks about your out-of-the-box thinking. Have you ever initiated a new idea that not only created something new but also eased out the process in general? Eg, talk about if you ever created a chatbot for your company's internal queries and how they eased out the process of communication and employees were able to get their queries sorted out faster.

Possible questions and techniques to answer

Once again here the questions can be as simple and direct as

Q. Tell us what have you invented?

Or it could be complex like

Q. Tell me about a time you had to think outside the box (think creatively) to close a sale or sell your product. (Interview Genie)

The STAR Method

Again, follow the STAR method


Like the example given above regarding chatbot, you can mention how there was a significant delay in work across the department as the information flow was slower.


Now mention what was the task like an incident where this delay in information caused some harm in the final results and what was your idea of getting it resolved, in this case, faster computer-generated information with a semantic search.


Now mention the action you took, like establishing an interdepartmental chatbot, and the details associated with it.


In the end mention results, like how your idea saved up the department's time and made the process of communication much easier.


And that was the Ownership and Invent and Simplify principle of Amazon. We are yet to cover 13 more principles which we will cover in our next blog so that you can ace your next Amazon interview.