Beyond Innovation, by Jeff Bezos and Nassim Taleb
In the present business environment, the mantra is to focus and invest in “innovation”. The term has become a buzzword. It is used in many sectors to describe the act of bringing new creativity into a business thanks to new approaches and technologies. Nothing wrong with that, right? However, while seeking a certain innovation in products and processes is great, it should not necessarily be the main driving strategy or distinctive advantage of an entrepreneur.
- A) JEFF BEZOS | AMAZON
While Amazon is undeniably a tech company, its business was built on this old-school premise: focus on the things that don’t change.
The premise, while simple, is also easy to forget when innovation seems to be the secret of massive success. Catching the next trend, predicting the next hype, disrupting an industry, or hacking your way to near-immediate success, sparking change … that’s what seems to work right now.
However, it’s hard to be innovative. It’s not easy to be truly disruptive. Knowing what will change it’s incredibly difficult. Based on these premises, Jeff Bezos – 30 years ago (1994) – did not worry about what will change. He focused on what won’t change. He built Amazon around things he knew would be stable over time, investing heavily in ensuring that Amazon would provide those things — and improve its delivery of those things.
This is how he describes Amazon’s fundamental approach:
I very frequently get the question: “What’s going to change in the next 10 years?” And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: “What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?” And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices. I know that’s going to be true ten years from now. They want fast delivery; they want a vast selection.
It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now when a customer comes up and says,
“Jeff, I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher.” “I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.”
And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still pay off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.
B) NASSIM N. TALEB | author of Fooled by Randomness
From a different angle, I find it valuable to see how risk expert, trader and author Nassim Taleb justifies his counter-intuitive strategy on how to write long-lasting successful books.
In his opinion, to write a book that will be relevant in the future, you must write a book that would have been relevant in the past.
This is his “trick”. For Taleb, this approach will guarantee you a timeless product. Like Jeff Bezos’s case, the focus is not on betting on what will be right in the future. Taleb does not fall into any guesswork. Instead, he prefers to invest in timeless content.
During a recent interview, he asked the audience: who is selling more records now: Metallica or Bach? Probably the metal band Metallica. However, 50 years from now, 100 years from now, Bach will still be selling, while Metallica probably not be that much. In his mind, he wants to be Bach: producing timeless “classic” products by answering timeless needs and interests.
CALL TO ACTION
In your work as an entrepreneur, creator, and innovator, what would be the timeless approach or feature that could always meet the interest and demand of your market?
Keep it real. Sweat Your Assets.