Innovation & Insights

Amazon, Space and the Long Now

Sam Frentzel-Beyme Follow Managing Partner & Strategy Director

The Short of It

  • Obsess over small defects.
  • Perfect customer experience is one where customers don't want to talk to us.
  • Thinking about longer time frames means you compete against fewer people.

A great article by Wired on Jeff Bezos' sometimes counter-intuitive approach at Amazon, his passion for making space travel accessible, and his belief that we'd approach the world a lot differently if we expanded our time frames. The full article is worth the read, but here is a quick preview of things I thought were interesting.

On how Amazon is able to be such a sought after partner in web services:

“We really obsess over small defects. That’s what drive’s up costs. Because the most expensive thing you can do is make a mistake. We can afford to focus on smaller and smaller defects and eliminate them at their root. That reduces cost, because things just work.”

On customer service:

“Our version of a perfect customer experience is one in which our customer doesn’t want to talk to us. Every time a customer contacts us, we see it as a defect. I’ve been saying for many, many years, people should talk to their friends, not their merchants.”

On thinking about time:

“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.”

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