Paul Misener VP of Global Innovation Policy & Communications at Amazon states in a recent presentation, “Amazon strives to be an innovation machine guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus; passion for invention; commitment to operational excellence; and long-term thinking.” All of this sounds like it would require a consultant to analyze how to get the organization from where you are to these lofty goals. The truth is that Amazon has been working at implementing innovation processes for many years. They have Jeff Bezos, a visionary, guiding them along the way.
Amazon Innovation Principle #1: Customer obsession rather than competitor focus
Many companies and consultants are obsessed with the competitive landscape. This first principle simple means don’t waste resources on analyzing the competition. Instead, focus your resources on understanding your customer. Innovation comes from directing resources to make products customers want to buy.
Amazon Innovation Principle #2: Passion for invention
In Inc.com’s article 37 Quotes From Thomas Edison That Will Inspire Success, one quote states, "To have a great idea, have a lot of them." Translation - innovation is not about one person in the organization having a great idea, it’s about creating a culture where many employees have many ideas. Creating a culture of innovation can simply come from senior executives stating in unison that they care about and want to hear employees’ ideas, and then honor those ideas.
Amazon Innovation Principle #3: Commitment to operational excellence
This may seem quite a lofty goal, but it is simply based on continuous improvement - a key part of innovation. Innovation does not need to be always about big ideas. It can be that many employees have many little ideas that make operations and processes a little better every day. The question is whether or not you have the ability to listen to ideas, sort out the good ones and implement those of value, regardless of size.
Amazon Innovation Principle #4: Long-term thinking
So much pressure on a business comes from the requirement to make wealth for shareholders, quarter after quarter. Unfortunately, that makes innovation difficult. If you need to invest in a new product, will you launch it with quality, or rush it out the door to meet sales projections? Creating quality products, that employees are proud of and customers will be loyal to, takes chutzpah and long term focus.
For help establishing innovation in your organization, contact Alfred Ricci.
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