I was having a conversation with Dad the other day about Amazon and why they had been such a successful company (more) recently. Our conversation stemmed from a conversation about companies investing in the right things for future growth, which is why Amazon was brought up – because they were famously unprofitable for many years. Now, however, they continue to be one of largest and profitable companies in the world and have some impact on many people’s lives every day. Why is that?
One answer might lie in this interview with Jeff Bezos. In it, he talks about how the main strategic imperitive at Amazon has always been to focus on what won’t change in their business. I thought that was a little counter-intuitive at first, but now think it’s a fairly salient piece of advice for many of us and the problems we’ll face this year. Here’s a good paragraph from the article which articulates it well.
“…I can’t imagine that ten years from now they (customers) are going to say, “I love Amazon, but if only they could deliver my products a little more slowly.” And they’re not going to, ten years from now, say, “I really love Amazon, but I wish their prices were a little higher.” So we know that when we put energy into defect reduction, which reduces our cost structure and thereby allows lower prices, that will be paying us dividends ten years from now. If we keep putting energy into that flywheel, ten years from now it’ll be spinning faster and faster.”
I love the last sentence especially. Just like solving the little problems and moving to the mobile web, it’s continuing to push at the flywheel of change that makes success truly happen in an organisation. And having knowledge about the things that won’t change for your customers is a great place to start pushing.