Tag Archives: tony hsieh

What is the purpose of innovation?

innovation on purpose

This question may be similar to the question “what is innovation?“, but it isn’t.

Why innovate?

Before answering, lets consider what innovation is. Two weeks ago I argued that because innovation means different things to different groups, that you should come up with your own definition of what innovation is.

For me, innovation is ideas transformed into value. I don’t get into whether it’s radical, incremental, disruptive or any other buzzword you can come up with because it makes it more complex for those who are not in the know.

What business are you really in?

It’s not the most obvious one.

Do you think Zappos is in the online retail business? Not according to Tony Hsieh:


Because they’re in ‘the stories & memories business’ they operate differently than traditional retailers. In their eyes they don’t compete with Amazon, they compete with the Ritz Carlton.

Zappos: Delivering Happiness through experiments

tony hsieh, ceo, zappos.com

Image via Wikipedia


We talk about doing experiments a lot in the innovation space and I personally get asked about this a lot. A major problem I see with some businesses is they don’t know what they should be experimenting with: experiments around what?

I was just listening to about his new book . One of the things that he talked about was how they do experiments and I think it highlights an important point: The Zappos brand is all about customer service, so their experiments are focused on improving their customer service.

Whether this is by design for them I don’t know, the points is that if you don’t know what you stand for then you have ways to go but if you do then you know where to focus your efforts. The no. 1 search engine on the planet, Google, runs because they know users expect the best search results all the time. What these experiments look like we don’t know but the fact is companies make experiments and they expect most of them to fail in one way or another and that’s also important.

Do like Zappos, appreciate the value of experiments to improve your core business and don’t be afraid to fail. Try a lot of stuff and keep what works!

I haven’t read the book yet but in the meantime the 18 minute interview is well worth listening to, listen and learn.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose — live with author and CEO of Zappos.com’s Tony Hsieh from GasPedal on Vimeo.

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