R&D should pervade every department
Jeff Bezos letter to shareholders 2010
Key message 13/22
Jeff Bezos has been writing a letter to shareholders since 1997 and looking at all if them gives an insight to the organisation and a masterclass in leadership. This is a series of short blogs that gives you a snap shot / key takes outs of each letter, along with links to them all.
“And while many of our systems are based on the latest in computer science research, this often hasn’t been sufficient: our architects and engineers have had to advance research in directions that no academic had yet taken. Many of the problems we face have no textbook solutions, and so we — happily — invent new approaches.”
Software is eating the world, and that means that technology should infuse everything that you do as a company, no matter your core competency.
With the speed at which technology advances and improves, investing in becoming a tech company will let you move much faster than your competition.
Shareholders, executive teams, and boards aren’t always aware of the most up-to-date advances in infrastructure technology, machine learning, and software architectures. It’s not necessarily easy to explain why you’re doing your own cutting edge research on these kinds of topics rather than focusing on your company’s main line of business.
You can’t expect to progress technologically if you’re siloing your company’s technology work in some kind of R&D department, Bezos writes.
At Amazon, technology pervades everything — every process, every decision, and every businesses.
Because of this approach, it can point to any product or line of business in the company and show how its dominance is rooted in technology, from the site’s search engine to Kindle.
Even Amazon Web Services — today one of Amazon’s main pillars and its largest driver of profit — was born from a piece of internal technology.
Technology isn’t just something that Amazon invests in so it can keep up with their competition. It’s how it tries to make core products better.
link to all letters to shareholders
- 1997: Bring on shareholders who align with your values
- 1998: Stay terrified of your customers
- 1999: Build on top of infrastructure that’s improving on its own
- 2000: In lean times, build a cash moat
- 2001: Measure your company by your free cash flow
- 2002: Build your business on your fixed costs
- 2003: Long-term thinking is rooted in ownership
- 2004: Free cash flow enables more innovation
- 2005: Don’t get fixated on short-term numbers
- 2006: Nurture your seedlings to build big lines of business
- 2007: Missionaries build better products
- 2008: Work backwards from customer needs to know what to build next
- 2009: Focus on inputs — the outputs will take care of themselves
- 2010: R&D should pervade every department
- 2011: Self-service platforms unlock innovation
- 2012: Surprise and delight your customers to build long-term trust
- 2013: Decentralize decision-making to generate innovation
- 2014: Bet on ideas that have unlimited upside
- 2015: Don’t deliberate over easily reversible decisions
- 2016: Move fast and focus on outcomes
- 2017: Build high standards into company culture
- 2018: Wandering is an essential counterbalance to efficiency