Bezos on Stretching Time Horizon


Many months ago Brent Beshore shared on Twitter his favorite Jeff Bezos quote on long-term thinking. I believe you can’t get any better of a reason on why to stretch your view:

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.

It’s a good reminder of when you do as everyone else does, don’t be surprised when you get what everyone else gets.

I went searching for where Jeff Bezos mentioned this, and found the following interview [HERE] he did with WIRED in 2011.

Here are some other notables from that interview:

Consistently Reinventing

Bezos: As a company, one of our greatest cultural strengths is accepting the fact that if you’re going to invent, you’re going to disrupt. A lot of entrenched interests are not going to like it. Some of them will be genuinely concerned about the new way, and some of them will have a vested self-interest in preserving the old way…

Bezos: As a company, we are culturally pioneers, and we like to disrupt even our own business. Other companies have different cultures and sometimes don’t like to do that. Our job is to bring those industries along. The music industry should be a great cautionary tale: Don’t let that happen to you. Get ahead of it. I think with books, we have gotten ahead of it, as have some very forward-leaning publishers. But some of them are really leaning backward, and that’s going to hurt their business. They’ll find that other publishers are going to do very well in that vacuum.

Amazon & Zappos Different Cultures (Example that there are more than one way to successfully operate a business)

We like their unique culture, but we don’t want that culture at Amazon. We like our culture, too. 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. And so we use all of our customer service information to find the root cause of any customer contact. What went wrong? Why did that person have to call? Why aren’t they spending that time talking to their family instead of talking to us? How do we fix it? Zappos takes a completely different approach. You call them and ask them for a pizza, and they’ll get out the Yellow Pages for you.