Posting in Technology
'Be willing to fail. Be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.'
George Anders, writing in Forbes, makes the astute observation that Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has now supplanted the late, great Steve Jobs as our prime philosopher-entrepreneur-CEO. As is the case with Jobs' Apple, Bezos' Amazon has been a huge, huge disruptor of markets, not only altering the way we conduct commerce, but also the way companies recognize the value of data as the keys to market domination. (Amazon Web Services is disrupting the information technology space big time as well, which is another whole story.) Amazon lives and breathes data every day, in fact.
The following are 10 key leadership lessons that Anders gleaned from his recent conversations with Bezos. Interestingly, most of these are tried-and-true pieces of advice that any company could and should have followed at any time over the past two centuries, and aren't necessarily dependent on Bezos' or Amazon's incredibly savvy technology prowess. The key takeaway here is that a company may have all the latest state-of-the-art technology in the world, but all those devices and hardware do not make a great company -- it takes enlightened, forward-looking management.
1. Base your strategy on service, not gadgets. Products and technologies will always change. What never goes out of style is a commitment to "wider selection, lower prices and fast, reliable delivery."
2. Obsess over customers.
3. Be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time. Bezos tends to take a long-term view on innovations that don't pay off right away.
4. Work to charge less. Many companies try to charge as much as they can, when they can -- Amazon's culture emphasizes frugality.
5. Determine what your customers need, and work backwards. "Specs for Amazon’s big new projects such as its Kindle tablets and e-book readers have been defined by customers’ desires rather than engineers’ tastes," says Anders.
6. “Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove we’ll settle for intense.” Data -- not social cohesion -- rules Amazon.
7. Be willing to fail -- often. Amazon recognizes that failure is a natural part of the innovation process.
8. “In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.”
9. “Everyone has to be able to work in a call center.” Perhaps a page borrowed from the US Marine manual, in which every marine, regardless of rank or specialty, is a rifleman first. All Amazon managers are expected to be trained as call center representatives.
10. “This is Day 1 for the Internet. We still have so much to learn.” Bezos first said that in 1997, and still believes it.
Apr 11, 2012
I agree with the principles, but they are principles for successfully producing products and services, not principles for leadership. Leadership is about managing people and it is the only effective way to manage people. The reason is that the only way to lead people to unleash their full potential on their work is to treat them better than you expect them to treat their work, their customers, each other, and their bosses. The only way to treat them to the highest standards is to fully meet their five basic needs; the needs to be heard, to be respected, and to have competence, autonomy, and relatedness (purpose), these last three proven by researchers Edward Deci and Richard Ryan (Self Determination Theory). Fortunately, meeting these needs only consists of meeting management's responsibility for supporting, both tangibly and intangibly, their workforce. Best regards, Ben Simonton Author "Leading People to be Highly Motivated and Committed" http://www.bensimonton.com
Excellent list could be completed by this slideware http://www.leaderlines.com/leaders-quotes.html
6 out of 10 are about the customers, some are a bit redundant. The focus on customers and customer service is interesting in that the assumptions are that if you give the customers a good price and give good service then the financial aspects will follow. There were 2 points, one to take a long term view of innovations that may not pay off for years and the other was to be willing to fail. It sounds like Bezos is saying that it is important to keep to long term goals but not get hung up trying to be perfect in the beginning. Being willing to fail, willing to try something that might not work while also keeping a long term goal is similar to Edison's long list of failures while trying to make a light bulb; he said that he knew hundreds of ways that did not work and eventually found one that did work (quite well since we are still using incandescent bulbs after 100 years).