Amazon’s Success Formula for Building an Invention Machine

Learn more about the mechanisms adopted by Amazon to achieve phenomenal success.



2 years ago | 2 min read

Amazon’s success story and customer-centric approach are well known.  Colin Bryar, former Amazon VP, and Bill Carr, ex-Amazon VP of digital media, dive deeper into the pillars of Amazon’s success in their book, ‘Working Backwards.’ The book reveals that the e-commerce giant’s success cannot be credited to a single practice but to the system that Jeff Bezos and the leadership team have created along the way. 

Let’s take a look at key takeaways: 

Innovation takes time

If you want to build a product that is not your core business, you cannot just brainstorm a quick idea and put it out for the public. For example, AWS grossed $10billion in just four years, but it took around 18 months before engineers started working on codes. According to Carr: “More so than most companies, Amazon thinks about creating value for customers, focusing specifically on how they can create unique and distinct products.”

Colin adds: “Moving fast isn’t about moving quickly, throwing stuff over the fence, or launching it in an app to see how it sticks. Instead, stopping to think about the value you’re trying to create for the customer and the problem you’re trying to solve is essential, especially when you’re moving into a brand-new area.” 

If you are building a company or as Bryar likes to call it, the invention machine, you need to analyze what your customer needs and if your product will be of value to them. 

Focus on what customers want and not what you can provide

Most business schools teach how to build a business around your skillset. But Amazon takes a different approach.

The organization had $5 billion in revenue back in 2004. Despite the massive figure, Bezos invested in digital media, seeing iPods’ growing popularity. In addition to this, he pulled Carr and his boss, Steve Kessel, off the physical media business and instructed them to focus on digital media. 

This management decision led to the birth of the Kindle. The device was not outsourced but built in-house. The device solved a critical problem: easy access to e-books. It took three years for Kindle to launch, but over time, Kindle became a go-to device for book readers with a collection of more than a million books.

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