Originally published by Bernard Marr on LinkedIn: The 3 Strategic Success Principles That Drive Performance At Amazon
Whether you are a new entrepreneur, the leader of a nonprofit organization or an executive at a large corporation, you likely want to understand the secret sauce that fuels Amazon’s tremendous growth and success. According to founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos, who is now worth $141 billion and is the wealthiest person in the world, three principles drive Amazon's success: customer obsession, a willingness to invent and accept failure, and patience to have a long-term focus.
From online bookseller to internet enterprise
Back in 1994, Jeff Bezos was a former Wall Street hedge fund executive who was looking for investors for his technology company that originally began its business as an online bookstore. He learned to accept "no" for an answer and respond to questions such as "What is the internet?" in those early days.
Even from the start when he was considering leaving his stable job to take a gamble on a new venture that many people balked at, Bezos was living one of his success principles. He said, “I knew that, when I’m 80, I would never regret trying this thing that I was super excited about and it failing. If it failed, fine. I would be very proud of the fact that when I’m 80 that I tried. I also knew that it would always haunt me if I didn’t try.”
Today, Amazon is the world’s second most valuable company right behind Apple. Here are three principles of Amazon that drive its continued success.
1. Customer obsession
As Bezos explains during an interview at the Internet Association Gala, there are many successful ways to center a company and become successful such as a competitor, product, technology or business model obsession strategies, but Amazon’s preferred method is to always to be customer obsessed. While there is nothing wrong with these other strategies and they are also capable of driving great success, Bezos believes customer obsession is the right one and gets you to success in a healthy way. Every single thing that Amazon does is about making things better for the customer. If they can figure out a way to cut costs, they do it. If they can make the customer experience better, that takes priority. Although Amazon has seemingly a disparate array of business lines such as original content through Amazon Studios, Amazon Web Services, consumer offerings that arrive in little brown boxes and more, the common threads are the three success principles. At the top of the list is being customer obsessed.
2. Willing and eager to invent
Customers are always dissatisfied, Bezos explains, even when they don’t know it. Companies must listen to customer needs and deliver products or services to fulfill those needs (part of customer obsession), but Amazon takes it a step further to invent on the customer’s behalf and solve problems they never knew they had. Along with a willingness to invent, is the acceptance of failure in the process. Amazon has launched a lot of tremendous ideas that customers ultimately didn’t want. Those failures don’t stop Amazon, but they propel them forward. Many people believe technology is disruptive, but it’s only when customers adopt a product or service that it becomes disruptive.
3. Long-term oriented
Bezos asks his team to think in five- to seven-year timeframes and not the usual two to three years relied on by many companies. Amazon's team understands there are no overnight successes and patience is required to get the success you desire. The success Amazon experiences this quarter is based on ideas and initiatives that were "fully baked" several years ago. They are already working on projects several years down the line. When you start to think this way, it begins to change the way you plan, where you put your energy and your ability to look around corners improves. This concept of long-term thinking doesn't come naturally, but it's a discipline that you must teach over time.
No matter what business line Amazon pursues next, Bezos describes that at its core, Amazon is a collection of principles and an approach they deploy. Regardless of the products or services they deliver today or tomorrow, the constant thread is the commitment to the customer, invention and focusing on the long term.
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