Complaining is not a strategy

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos starts his High Orde... Many companies may start their lives playing to win, but inevitably end up playing not to lose. It is this cycle of being proactive and then reactive that may become a fact for your organization.

Many books and blog posts have been written about the many reasons companies fail, a key reason is because they stop paying  attention to customers, and instead focus on competitors. It is a very interesting dynamic to observe how companies may start innovating but then decide to align themselves with their competitors…

The question is: why?

The answer comes down to human nature. Success hides problems, and our tendency to become complacent after having some success puts us in a state of reaction. As a result, competitor activity becomes a huge source of anxiety and frustration for company leaders. For me, a clear signal that a company may be loosing its footing is when it talks a lot about what competitors are doing and how they have to match them; not what they are doing differently.

Sure, other competitors may take advantage of trends in technology and ride a wave that ends up disrupting existing businesses; but very rarely are companies created with a deliberate need to crush existing companies. That happens after the fact!

It is very simple, the future happens to you, not other competitors.

This simple insight was reflected on a recent 60 Minutes segment where in reference to the media and publishing industries it is disrupting, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tells Charlie Rose that complaining is not a strategy:

Charlie Rose: A lot of small book publishers and other smaller companies worry that the power of Amazon gives them no chance.

Jeff Bezos: You got to earn your keep in this world. When you invent something new, if customers come to the party, it’s disruptive to the old way.

Rose: Yeah, but I mean, there are areas where your power’s so great, and your margin — you’re prepared to make it so thin — that you can drive people out of business. And you have that kind of strength, and people worry: Is Amazon ruthless in their pursuit of market share?

Bezos: The Internet is disrupting every media industry, Charlie. You know, people can complain about that, but complaining is not a strategy. Amazon is not happening to book selling; the future is happening to book selling.

Innovation doesn’t follow, it leads. So, when you start complaining about competitors, remember to reflect on the bigger picture; because that is probably what you are missing.

Ask yourself: what questions are we not asking that may become a reality for us?

You can watch the whole 60 Minutes segment below:


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