In an all hands meeting, Jeff Bezos stated that the trillion dollar company is not too big to fail. “Amazon is not too big to fail…In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.” …and he’s right, Amazon can fail but it may not be the reasons he thinks. Yes, it’s true that most big businesses have about a generation of influence, case in point, Sears, JC Penny, K-Mart, and a slew of other retail and manufacturing companies.
As the business climate in the world changes, so do the needs of business, and the needs of business people, and the needs of people working in the business.
Jeff stated that, “The key to fending off the inevitable, is for Amazon to ‘obsess over customers’ and to avoid looking inward, worrying about itself.”
At first glance this quote appears to be correct, especially in the service industry. However, Mr. Bezos may be missing the simplest equation to a long term successful company: Deliberately Developing the People of Amazon.
What we learn from the industrial aged business model like Sears and others, is that people are expendable. Hire people who are intelligent enough to read and write, and re-stock, and you will reap the benefits from their hard work, but never reap the long term effects of their wisdom unless they are developed. They are hired to work J.O.B.’s but never developed to discover their life’s WORK. And eventually, this model fails. If Amazon fails, it will be because it never learned to develop their people.
“If we start to focus on ourselves, instead of focusing on our customers, that will be the beginning of the end,” he said. “We have to try and delay that day for as long as possible.”
I couldn’t disagree more. There is a phrase that Mr. Bezos needs to learn: “A Better Me + A Better You = A Better Us.”
If Amazon is to succeed further than their industrial predecessors, then they need to learn that caring for the internal customer is essential for caring for the external customer. Who is going to care for the care givers? There can never be a Better You (the customer) and certainly never a Better Us (the World) unless there is a Better Me! (your employees) So I would encourage you to focus on yourself! At least recognize the beauty of your employees and develop them. This is what will make Amazon last, and be healthy for generations to come!
Deliberate Developmental companies like Next Jump sees the future with a different lens. They believe that the internal customer is just as important as the external customer. I witnessed this first hand. Before you ask, the answer is yes, it’s not the “normal” way you would run a business. But I would argue that Mr Bezos could learn a lot from the people like Charlie Kim and Meghan Messenger, Co-CEO’s of Next Jump. They are a humble team that recognize each other’s weaknesses and are not afraid of honest feedback. And he would benefit from reading about DDO’s (Deliberately Developmental Organizations) Jeff, you can order it right off of Amazon!
Just a thought, Mr., Bezos, but Amazon is not too big to succeed! You just have to make the decision to take the time to develop your people, before it’s too late!