Friday, March 31, 2006

Amazon: the risk of success

I'll make one last comment on the whole "Amazon Rude CTO" flap (see Shel Israel's post entitled "Why Amazon Should Blog"), and that is that Amazon's great success over the past decade (since 1995) itself poses a great risk for the company. It's difficult to achieve success, but it's far too easy to build a fortress around that success and try to protect it like gold at Fort Knox. The only proven technique for "guarding" your success is to, as they say, "eat your own children", meaning that you must innovate the obsolescence of your own cherished business systems. There are all sorts of terms like "Innovator's Dilemma", "Creative Destruction", "Disruptive Technologies", etc. that make the point that attempting to treat your "success" as an inherently protectable "asset" is a big, big mistake. The biggest mistake that a business can possibly make.

What the Amazon Rude CTO flap seems to demonstrate is an attempt by Amazon to raise the drawbridges and retreat inside the warm and comfortable fortress that has protected them over the past decade. That is a huge mistake.

By hiding behind demands for hard numbers and holding up impossible standards for new ideas, Amazon is committing the single biggest sin that any business can make: they are unnecessarily cutting off options, the kind of options that can present either great opportunities for their future success, or great opportunities for some new, small, nimble up-start start-up to unseat an arrogant incumbent.

With that, I shall formally retire from The Great Amazon Rude CTO Flap of 2006... unless somebody at Amazon decides to further stir the pot.

In its place, I will renew my original "invitation" for Amazon's top and middle management team to place a blog front and center on their main web page and start engaging customers and other stakeholders in true, meaningful, naked conversations.

-- Jack Krupansky


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home