Should you marry the Amazon way or the Toyota way?

Recently, I’ve been attending weekday family functions which are usually filled with very enthusiastic retired folk who almost always have a son/ niece/ neighbour/ walking friend’s kid to be married off. Attending these parties has meant that I’ve unintentionally started building a fabulous feet on street sales team. I tell you…

Aunties are the bomb.

After having spoken to a wide variety of aunties and uncles about their children in the market, I have realised that decisions in the arranged marriage market are taken in one of two ways - the “Amazon Way” or the “Toyota Way”.

Two companies where I’ve spent a majority of my corporate career are Amazon and Toyota. Both these companies pride themselves of strong business “principles” which guide their decision making or the way of doing business. There is a lot of publicly available literature on these two companies, but I’ll try and oversimplify for those of you who aren’t familiar already, based on my experience (yes, mine only).

In both companies, for every decision taken, there is always only one decision maker (a person or a team) and plenty of stakeholders involved. But the decision making process is different.


Inputs are taken from all stakeholders, and then one person (or a team) develops a plan that takes into account the best interest of all teams, to the extent possible of course. This is then reviewed with all stakeholders multiple times to ensure that the necessary edits are within reason for all stakeholders. This is then presented to senior management in the company who will approve the plan with confidence that all stakeholders are happy.


The decision maker presents a written plan to relevant stakeholders in a meeting. There is no mandate around building consensus with stakeholders pre-meeting, but it is considered good practice. This is read and debated within the meeting. The decision maker is free to take inputs from stakeholders, or not, if he/she/they can fight it with reason. There is general faith that any decision taken keeps the customer’s best interest in mind, which is represented by the decision maker.

Those of you who are in the market, or have been at some point realise the subtle difference between the two and how they mirror decision making in the arranged marriage market.

It’s not a marriage between two individuals, but it’s a union of two families. Ever heard that? Actually, I was of the impression, that this statement is starting to fade just a little bit from our society today, but having spoken to a few parents off late, I am not so sure anymore. I think if a couple stays with the family post wedding, the families become a pretty significant part of the marriage. Naturally, this is factored into the selection process as well.

There are individuals who choose their partners, and are open to debating the choice with their families (the Amazon way) and there are also individuals who choose based on inputs from every single family member (the Toyota Way).

The cynical bitch that I am, I’ll not bother sugarcoating this for you. I’ll just go ahead and tell you my problem with each of the two decision making processes, especially in the case of the arranged marriage market.

Choose first, debate next or the Amazon Way

If you have the balls to do this, I’d say you won’t have much of a problem with this approach. The only thing you might have to temporarily endure is your parents putting senti, but I am guessing you’re already used to it, so again, it may be a non-issue. However, I must warn you that this is much much worse than any other decision you’ve ever made because you have to face the consequences of your decision everyday, for the rest of your life, and your parents might always have a thing or two to say about it for the rest of their lives.

I’ve a friend who chose a partner, and decided to live with his parents after the wedding. Unfortunately, the wife didn’t get along with the in-laws, and the boy ended up losing the debate, so the poor couple ended up divorced. Of course, I am oversimplifying the situation, but the point being sometimes, choosing first and debating later without knowing if you can fully defend your choice can have undesirable consequences.

We may not marry, but at least we collaborated or the Toyota Way

With just about anything in life, being selfish is far easier than being altruistic. When you try to please everybody, you usually end up pleasing almost nobody, including yourself. So, when you get a profile and send it to your grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc. for approval, chances are at least one of them will moot the candidate out of the process even before you’ve looked at the profile, let alone had a chance to get to know him/ her well enough to realise that he/ she might make a fantastic partner.

Team work is great, yes, but it takes an incredibly long time to make decisions when you need to decide as a group. Let’s face it, you aren’t getting any younger, so you are better off choosing first, and debating later.

No one way is better than the other - to each their own. Anyway, team work or not, at least the individual driving the decision in both cases is the one who’s in the market.

The end.

Oh no wait, there are kids who let their parents do it for them altogether no? Well, that’s how we raise kids in our society though. We always know what’s best for them and given a choice, we prefer to do most things for them, help them do it or at least offer our kindest advice rather than let them take a stab at it on their own.

But something to think about - This person you find is looking to marry your son/ daughter and not you. So, finding your kid a partner may take forever, or may never happen, or even worse, your kid may marry someone who’d make a better wife/ husband to you rather than them. This is obviously covered in some detail in one of my very old blogposts. I might do another take on it sometime in the future, so stay tuned.

Ok, now the end, for real.