Tag Archives: jeff bezos

Jeff Bezos on Culture: Failure and Invention are Inseparable Twins

jeff bezos on corporate cultureFailure can’t be separated from invention, it’s not optional. It’s also why you can’t mandate innovation, only inspire it. You can create the conditions necessary for it to happen, but it’s not a set-it and forget it deal.

It’s something that Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, understands well and repeated this message once more in the latest letter to shareholders:

If You Don’t Value Brilliance, You Don’t Value Innovation

A small team of A+ playerscan run circles around a giant team of B and C players

Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one else can see. In a perfect situation, you have both on your side. On most situation, you have neither.

No traditionally managed corporation would ever hire a Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Larry Page type of person. Why? Because genius needs to be left alone, to be unleashed, to operate in chaos. And corporations want to put a leash on anything that challenges the status quo; they are afraid of genius because they can’t predict and control it.

But, black sheep are precisely the type of people you need if you truly want to innovate. It’s the truth.

What large companies still don’t get about marketing innovation

Though we are fairly well into the internet economy where brands can communicate directly with customers in a variety of ways through social networks, one belief from the old order still holds true: incumbent brands believe that in order to win the hearts and minds of customers, that they can out-market upstarts that gain loyalty through the great products and services they deliver.

There are only a handful of companies that can both make great products and advertising. We continually marvel at products and services from visionary companies like Apple, Google, Uber and others who gain our loyalty the product and service excellence; you can actually feel their dedication.

Jeff Bezos: Failure can’t be separated from invention

Jeff Bezos - Caricature

Jeff Bezos – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

How do you maximize people’s potential to drive innovation? As Bob Ross says, “We don’t make mistakes, only happy accidents”. So, let employees make happy accidents.

This is what happens at the world’s most innovative companies, one of which is Amazon.

There are many lessons we can learn from Jeff Bezos about maximizing people’s potential to drive innovation. For example, in his annual shareholder letter, Jeff Bezos closes the letter with some final tips on what lets the company continue to lead. One is that invention comes from everybody, not just senior leaders. A lot of those ideas are going to fail. That’s not a bad thing:

Are all innovators alike?

Are all innovators alike?

Nuances and details are lost in the sea of bullshit that is media and human irrationality, and an outcome is one of the most dangerous things humans do: build people up to more than they probably are.

Sure, the world needs heroes that carry a positive narrative that others can latch on to and get inspired to make a story of their own. My heroes are Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan. You have your own, for your own personal reasons.

And just like you and I have our own motivations for why we do something, what we do and how we do it; so do other potential innovators.

Truth is, that in a world where people are fitted into boxes, everyone has their own creative style. Some people are more systematic than others, and some of us are more intuitive. I believe that failing to understand this distinction between people is a huge innovation obstacle!

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.