At Amazon, we have a customer-obsessed approach to innovation and believe that innovation is everyone’s job. That said, each organization has its own history, priorities, and approach, so we were keen to learn how other companies innovate, what barriers they encounter, what best practices they’ve identified, and how rapidly evolving market conditions have affected how they prioritize and approach innovation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we saw that innovation is a virtuous circle, where those who prioritize it seem to succeed more, which then leads to greater priority and therefore more success. External pressure often pushes people back to where they are comfortable, but innovation leaders are looking to speed up, not slow down. This means that the gap between innovators and others will only continue to widen. In turn, innovation seems to have had a breakthrough from corporate buzzword to strategic priority. Innovation leaders focus on customers, business models, and breakthrough technology, all in service of their organization’s mission. Other organizations focus more on competition, regulation, and profitability. What’s interesting here is that those motivations for innovation leaders are durable—customers are never satisfied, and technology will keep providing opportunities. In contrast, the motivations of innovation laggards are internal and finite—you can beat your competition, satisfy regulations, and then declare victory. Meanwhile, innovators will keep on innovating.
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