Lessons on Management and Entrepreneurship from Jeff Bezos
By Alberto Mingardi
Jeff Bezos stepping down from being CEO of Amazon (or stepping up, as he remains President) has been the object of many articles. I have particularly enjoyed this piece from the Wall Street Journal, by Lauren Weber.
Weber highlights a few fascinating points in Bezos’ management style.
Mr. Bezos says he goes to bed early, rises early and schedules “high IQ” meetings before lunch, all in the service of making a few clear, smart decisions each day, he told an audience at the Economic Club of Washington in 2018. “If I have three good decisions a day, that’s enough,” he said. “They should just be as high quality as I can make them.”
Mr. Bezos frequently attributes Amazon’s success to the company’s obsession with giving customers what they want. From Amazon’s early days, he would place an empty chair in meetings to prod executives into thinking about how their decisions would affect customers, he recounted in the Economic Club of Washington interview. And when Mr. Bezos considered expanding the business beyond books and music, he emailed a random group of 1,000 customers, asking what they wanted to buy on the site. From their responses, he concluded he could sell just about anything on the internet—which is exactly what he’s done.
… The company abandons patent applications at a higher rate than others, a sign of its commitment to move past obsolete technology. Mr. Bezos himself is named on dozens of Amazon patents.
“If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive,” Mr. Bezos wrote to employees on Tuesday, referring to Amazon innovations such as customer reviews, Alexa and one-click shopping.
… Mr. Bezos is well-known for his insistence that meetings be productive. To facilitate that, he requires presenters to write a memo, no longer than six pages, that is circulated and silently read at the start of a meeting by everyone present. … Employees have said they spend weeks perfecting their memos, a process that sharpens ideas and improves decision-making and discussion.
This is not a comprehensive analysis of Bezos’ management genius, but these are still interesting bits that make you think. In any organization, it is very easy to become complacent and let inertia run things. Bezos knew that and confronted it, at a variety of levels. I am sure his success has been imperfect. Still, I can see his story and tips like this inspiring entrepreneurs all around the world.