Innovation Case Study Spotlight Series: Amazon’s Go-To Innovation Techniques

The Innovation Case Study series highlights best practices and “go to” techniques of innovation heavyweights. CIOs can use this case study to explore the innovation approaches of Amazon, including customer centricity, working backwards from customers and their needs and creating teams of “builders.”

Key Findings

• As with many technology innovation leaders, Amazon has scaled its innovation capabilities by embedding key attitudes and approaches deeply into the culture — for example, through pervasive adoption of codified leadership principles.
• Even with a strong emphasis on culture, Amazon has developed and socialized specific mechanisms (that is, approaches and processes such as “working backwards” from customers and their needs and using a fictional press release to develop new ideas). When followed, these mechanisms are more likely to lead to desired behaviors and outcomes.
• Adopting practices from other successful organizations provides no guarantee of success. However, successful innovators are always watching for, experimenting with and adapting a range of practices, techniques and approaches to determine which ones best achieve desired outcomes in their own environments.

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