Jeff Bezos’ 2016 letter to shareowners
Every year, Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos writes a letter to shareowners of the company. It’s available through the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)…here is this year’s:
These letters tend to be well-written, high levels thoughts, more on the philosophy and culture of Amazon, rather than specific numbers on production.
This year is no exception. 🙂
A lot of it is about how Amazon will inevitably face risks.
I find that refreshing, and I think it’s a wise thing to do.
I’m a former actor, and there is a theatrical tradition that can surprise outsiders if they observe it.
You’ve all heard of people saying, “Break a leg,” which is a way to wish someone a good performance.
It’s really partially about not “jinxing” it. 🙂
Similarly, there is usually a night during preparations for a play, the night when the set is first up, where the actors walk around the stage…and talk about bad things that might happen.
“Somebody could fall stepping from that set piece to that one.”
“That tower could tip over and fall on someone.”
“The curtain’s probably going to catch that wheel when that wall gets pushed out.”
Now, that might just sound negative, but it has a practical purpose.
When the actors are doing that, the stage crew is also there. The crew doesn’t talk…they just listen.
This is done soon enough so that changes can be made.
That doesn’t mean that everything every actor says results in a change. The stage crew may know that what the actor says is not going to happen…that it’s already been anticipated and remedied.
By the way, that reminds me of something many people seem to…misunderstand.
That’s “Murphy’s Law”.
Many people can quote that: “If anything can go wrong, it will.”
They use that as an excuse…to say there was nothing that could have been done.
As I recall, though, there actually was a Murphy. My recollection is that Murphy worked at the White Sands missile testing base, but I’m not going to look it up first. 🙂 I’ll probably look it up afterwards, but I like my recollection.
As I remember it, the actual “law” is, “If anything can go wrong, it will…so fix it now.”
It’s the second part people don’t seem to know. 🙂
The point is, if there is a one percent chance something will go wrong, you can’t just ignore it because there is such a small chance…you need to get as close as you can to a zero percent chance, since if that one percent event can happen, you have to act as though it will happen.
So, I like that Jeff Bezos recognizes that there are risks to success.
I would say this was my favorite line this year:
“I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins.”
There aren’t any real clear indicators of Amazon’s plans, and Bezos doesn’t even mention the Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) or new models of Kindles/or Fires…even though we expect new Kindles to be announced next week.
I recommend you read the letter…and compare it to the 1997 letter, which, as usual, is included.
Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
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