What can businesses and charities learn from Jeff Bezos?

woman walking down

As Jeff Bezos steps down as CEO of Amazon, his legacy continues to inspire business leaders across the world.

Jeff Bezos started Amazon as a loss making online book store and has built it into one of the largest and most successful businesses in the world.

Amazon is a business that is known for having high standards. How do you stay ahead of ever-increasing customer expectations in a fast-paced industry? The key for Amazon was to lead from the top down and instill a culture of high standards throughout the entire company. Amazon has had a few failures along the way, but it has taken the time to learn from those in order to improve different aspects of its service proposition and drive innovation across all levels of the organisation.

One key to Jeff’s successful leadership of Amazon was his ability to make decisions quickly. To be decisive, it is important to learn how to manage risk and make decisions without having 100% of the relevant information. Business decisions often have to be made with around 75% of the information that you wish you had. If you wait to have 100%, you could end up deliberating, moving slowly, and being overtaken by your competitors.

In one of his annual letters, Bezos wrote about his aim to surprise and delight customers in order to build long-term trust. His note went on to talk about being internally driven to improve services, add benefits and new features before having to do so. You can apply this concept to your own organisations by thinking about how you can increase value for your customers, through innovation or improvements to your products and services.
Jeff Bezos focused on inputs because, in his view, the outputs would take care of themselves. Amazon does, of course, take financial outputs seriously, but by focusing their energy on the controllable inputs, setting smart objectives and putting detail-oriented plans in place, the management team set the business up for success.

Jeff and his management team focused on customer needs and worked backwards from there, in order to identify opportunities to build the next product or service offering. This approach drove the team at Amazon to develop new skills in order to deliver innovative offerings that satisfied the needs of their customers.

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