Fudge Sunday - Follow the Lyrical Leadership Listicles

Start the week more informedThis week we take a look at lengthening lyrical leadership listicles.

Crystal Fighters - Follow (2012)

Note: Welcome to the 52nd issue of Fudge Sunday in a row! 🎉

Getting Informed

Change is hard. So, if we assume that culture eats strategy for breakfast it also means we can only conclude software is a villain that wants great abs.

Leadership books from Lencioni, Covey, Grove, Scott, and others could fill a very deep well with perspectives on influencing folks to achieve a desired outcome. However, following the leader might be easier said than done over a long enough timeline.

Follow to the middle 🎶

Invariably, in creating any codex that can codify culture – there will be lists. Indeed, there will be many lists until one list rises to significance above all other lists.

As such, over time, a key question can arise with any list.

When does a list become a listicle?

Now, let’s take a look at one of the more well known lists of leadership principles in the tech community: Amazon Leadership Principles. We will see that the list is getting longer.

Leadership Listicles (1998)

According to “The Everything Store” by Brad Stone, the list of leadership principles at Amazon.com (back then the .com was said aloud) was somewhere around 5 or 6 depending on the source you reference.

  1. Customer Obsession
  2. Frugality
  3. Bias for Action
  4. Ownership
  5. High Bar for Talent
  6. Innovation

You could probably memorize this list pretty easily if you’ve read other business leadership books that likely influenced this list.



Leadership Listicles (2006)

By the time AWS was becoming more well known, the leadership principles at Amazon (no .com by now) had expanded to one more than a baker’s dozen.

  1. Customer Obsession (1998)
  2. Ownership (1998)
  3. Invent and Simplify (1998 - Innovation?)
  4. Are Right, A Lot (New!)
  5. Learn and Be Curious (New!)
  6. Hire and Develop The Best (1998 - High Bar for Talent?)
  7. Insist on the Highest Standards (1998 - High Bar for Talent?)
  8. Think Big (New!)
  9. Bias for Action (1998)
  10. Frugality (1998)
  11. Earn Trust (New!)
  12. Dive Deep (New!)
  13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit (New!)
  14. Deliver Results (New!)

Granted, this list is going to be a bit harder to memorize but it is certainly possible if you think about this is a paragraph or lines to recall as COIALHITBFEDHD. Bring out the mnemonics!



Leadership Listicles (2021-2022)

The leadership principles list in 2021 reached a sweet sixteen as the CEO succession took place.

  1. Customer Obsession
  2. Ownership
  3. Invent and Simplify
  4. Are Right, A Lot
  5. Learn and Be Curious
  6. Hire and Develop The Best
  7. Insist on the Highest Standards
  8. Think Big
  9. Bias for Action
  10. Frugality
  11. Earn Trust
  12. Dive Deep
  13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
  14. Deliver Results
  15. Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer (New!)
  16. Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility (New with alliteration and lyricism!)

That’s COIALHITBFEDHDSS. Maybe that means appending Super Sized to prior mnemonics?



But what happens in the coming years?

Will the leadership principles list elements pop, push, splice, or filter?

Do mnemonics consolidate, compound, or compact?

Will Amazon eventually have 30+ Leadership Principles by 2049?Will Amazon eventually have 30+ Leadership Principles by 2049?

Can Amazon expect that projection to be reality?

Does this R^2 mean Amazon will fill their memcached or memecached?

Place your bets…

When the sun’s shining yellow 🎶

Tech isn’t everything. As humans, it is a lot though.

For example, US Marines going into OCS use memorable acronyms like “JJ DID TIE BUCKLE” (or +SIR?) for their own 14 leadership traits and the 11 leadership principles of the US Marine Corps that were more recently adopted from the US Army. The lists are reasonable enough to commit to memory and through shared collective memory there is a culture.

So, if memorizing 16 items is easily doable, 30+ might seem like a stretch.


Then there are warrior monks that can recite 200 mantras.

Then there are musicians that can play thousands of songs.

Then there are piphologists that can replay thousands of digits.

Then there are neuroscientists claiming petabytes of brain capacity.

Are understanding, linkages, or other strategies for memorizing brought into consideration to bridge personal semantics and collectives?

Hopefully folks won’t become bad retcon Traveler-esque historians.


Place your bets…

Recommended Repo


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