Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful visionaries of our time and possibly of this century. Amazon was, and is, a game changer. In the process of Jeff implementing his vision of creating an online ‘everything store,’ where low prices and great customer service were key, he and his company transformed the technology industry. Jeff’s focus and personality created a culture at Amazon that was driven, ruthless and risk taking. On their rise to being a dominant leader, Amazon’s definition of successful negotiations meant there is only one winner and that winner was Amazon. Amazon’s negotiation tactics often times made them an enemy with the vendors they work with. The perception of the firm, which for many was their reality, is that “Amazon torched the landscape around them to emerge as the winner.”
Amazon succeeded, despite their high-stress, employee burnout culture and their ruthless reputation, because Jeff never swayed from his vision of being the ‘everything store’ and having a focus on creating offerings that the customer wanted. Amazon’s strategy has caused a love/hate relationship with the companies they work with. The companies love the positive sales impact that Amazon creates for them, and hate how Amazon squeezes their profit margins so tightly, because this can severely negatively impact the vendors other distribution channels.
We have seen this type of creative destruction throughout the centuries. Creative destruction, which is driven by great minds who truly believe that there is a better way than the current way, has, in many cases, made our lives simpler and more efficient. It has also been a contributor to our overall enjoyment of life.
As a consumer, Sheila appreciates the low cost philosophy, ease of use, and the value of the products she purchases from Amazon. Clearly, there was and is a market for Jeff Bezos’s vision. His business model is successful from a corporate perspective. If Jeff didn’t tap it successfully, another firm would have. As for Amazon’s culture, it’s not for everyone. What some of our greatest innovators/visionaries do not realize, is that if your employees truly buy into your vision and want to make your vision a reality, they will give you everything they have, not due to the demoralizing, ruthless culture, but because there is something to be said for being a part of creating something great, something bigger than you.
Sometimes a vision, sprinkled with inspiration and passion, is enough to spark the drive, creative thinking, and motivation within your employees. Ever wonder why Amazon didn’t enforce their culture on Zappos when they acquired them in 2009, or why Jeff decided not to sprinkle some of the Zappos culture into Amazon? He clearly must see the cultural differences, right?