Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) started out selling books. Now, it sells everything.
Amazon keeps the vast enterprise aligned with One Obsession.
Jeff Bezos has built Amazon into one of the most successful and transformational companies in history. And on October 27, 2017, he became the richest person in the world.
So, what was the secret to Amazon’s amazing success?
When Amazon.com launched in 1995, their mission was “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
In one of Bezos’ annual letters, he describes it this way, “There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.”
Let’s unpack this statement.
First, Bezos is obviously right. There are indeed many ways to center a business. In other words, there are many ways to align a business.
Second, Bezos presents the options as discreet choices. His implication is that your company must choose One of them. Do you agree?
Third, Bezos bridges from describing the other choices as “focused” to Amazon having “obsessive customer focus.”
“Obsessive” is an extreme word. In extreme cases, obsession can become a dysfunctional pathology.
Perhaps “obsessive customer focus” sounds extreme. But clearly, it has worked for Amazon.
Unfortunately, most companies are distracted, divided, and dysfunctional. Many others are obsessed with the wrong things.
Developing One Obsession is a tremendous way to improve strategic alignment. You will just have to agree on what to become obsessed with.
Finally, while becoming “the Earth’s most customer-centric company” was indeed Amazon’s original mission, they now describe it as one of the fourteen leadership principles that make up their DNA.
If you are inspired to copy Amazon’s example, complete this sentence: “Our mission is to become the most ________________-obsessed company in the world.”