There are times when I come across something and it literally takes my breath away.  I know that probably sounds weird…but it is the truth.  When it happens, I almost always want to share the idea with you.  This is one of those times.

Last Friday I tripped across this article that referenced an Amazon shareholder meeting with CEO Jeff Bezos (HT @ScottDAnthony)

I loved this line from Jeff Bezos on innovation and the culture of Amazon:

“A big piece of the story we tell ourselves about who we are, is that we are willing to invent. We are willing to think long-term. We start with the customer and work backwards. And, very importantly, we are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.”

Just take a moment and digest what Bezos is saying about Amazon’s corporate culture:

  • They are willing to invent
  • They think long-term
  • They start with the customer and work backwards
  • They are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time

That, friends, is a commitment to innovation.  There is a ton there about why so many of us are stuck.  But if you’re tempted to shrug your shoulders, read on:

“I believe if you don’t have that set of things in your corporate culture, then you can’t do large-scale invention. You can do incremental invention, which is critically important for any company. But it is very difficult — if you are not willing to be misunderstood. People will misunderstand you.”

Why is this so big?  Why did it take my breath away?  Easy.  If you want to connect people no one else is connecting, you’ve got to do things no one else is doing.  Incremental invention will not get that done.

Incremental invention…tightening up the process, designing a more effective way to do a small group connection or a more efficient way to design the semester catalog…will never connect beyond the usual suspects.  If we want to do that, we need a willingness to invent, we need to think long-term, we need to start with the customer and work backward, and we need to be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.

What do you think?  Have a question? Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.