Bezos on Innovation

Innovation Weblog has excerpts from an interview with the Amazon CEO in Business Week:

The nature of innovation: “Innovation is part and parcel with going down blind alleys (exploring ideas that may or may not be commercially successful). You can’t have one without the other.”

Nurturing continuous innovation as the company grows: “If you want to have an innovative organization, you need to do at least a couple of things. One is it’s a lot about selection of people. Some people love a rapid rate of change. They love going down alleys, many of which turn out to be dead ends. They like inventing. And other people like a more stable environment where you know more what tomorrow’s going to be like. Those people, of course, flee in hordes.”

Keeping the ideas percolating: “You need to organize so that you can do as many experiments per unit of time as possible. Ifyou can organize in small, lightweight teams that have certain tools so they can do a lot of experiments per week or per month or what ever the right unit of time is, that youll get a lot more invention from that.”

The rate of future innovation: “Basically, since we’ve been recording history, the rate of innovation has been accelerating. I see no reason why that acceleration should change. You got much larger numbers of educated people. Youve got great information flow. You’ve got these technologies that are very mutable and allow a lot of innovation.”

Does Bezos view himself as an innovator? “I absolutely think of myself as an innovator. I actually think most people, unleashed, are innovators. I think we get hamstrung, and we learn helplessness, and we learn that we can’t improve things. But natively, were all innovators. We’re this great species of tool-using animal who likes to make our world better.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.