- Constant and Uber paranoia, combined with:
- Unconventional (unobstructed) thinking
When I read the WSJ article, Amazon’s Greatest Weapon: Jeff Bezos’s Paranoia, I agreed with the points about paranoia and why Bezos stands apart from many of the leaders. That allows him constantly to be aware and ahead of competition at all times. This applies to all Amazon product lines including the Kindle, Amazon books, the web services business, and the most amazing growth of Amazon in the elastic computing and cloud business and much more.
However, I DON’T think paranoia alone is enough. That used to be Intel’s weapon — constant paranoia. A significant weapon, but not enough on its own.
Key in Bezos’s behavior is complete unconventional and out-of-the-box thinking. Such thinking is innovative, unparalleled and usually considered impossible. I have many examples to share with you, but the two that come to mind regrading Amazon are:
- Define and own a market when people don’t think it is possible. Start by selling books and then sell everything from all over the world. ‘Limitations’ are simply boundaries in one’s head and that is it!
- Break conventional thinking. Why not deliver packages on Sunday? Why not use USPS versus only UPS? This is win-win for Amazon and the USPS. USPS is bleeding money, has halted Saturday delivery. is laying off thousands and closing hundreds of centers. Why not develop a win-win strategy? Many would think that USPS is a federal agency, hence you can not negotiate with them or other delivery companies would not respond, as Sunday is an impossible date to deliver mail.
Impossible to many become ‘options’ to a few, those who do not let conventional obstacles stand in their way.
Combined with incessant paranoia, that is a huge competitive differentiator.
On the downside, executives with such behavior (Paranoia + Unconventional Thinking) are very intense, often lack the ability to motivate employees and drive very hard, sometimes too hard! The ability to have these ingredients PLUS a keen ability to motivate staff, now that is the killer winning formula!
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Linda Bernardi is a Technology Strategist, Investor, and Founder & CEO at StraTerra Partners, The Bernardi Leadership Institute and a Strategic Advisor at Cloudant Inc. She is also the Author of Provoke, Why the Global Culture of Disruption is the Only Hope for Innovation. Learn more here about Linda’s work on disrupting large enterprise analytics.