LAS VEGAS — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is constantly asked to predict what the future will be like in 10 years — and he’s game to shrug and try — but he said that’s exactly the wrong way to go about business strategy.
“It’s interesting, I do get asked quite frequently what’s going to change in the next 10 years. One thing I rarely get asked is probably even more important — and I encourage you to think about this — is the question: What’s not going to change in the next 10 years,” he said on stage at Amazon’s inaugural Re:Mars artificial-intelligence and robotics conference on Thursday.
“The answer to that question can allow you to organize your activities. You can work on those things with the confidence to know that all the energy you put into them today is still going to be paying you dividends 10 years from now,” he said.
For Amazon’s e-commerce business, for instance, he knows that in the next decade people will still want low prices, fast shipping, and a large selection.
“It’s impossible to imagine people saying to me, ‘Jeff, I love Amazon. I just wish you delivered a little more slowly. Or, I love Amazon, I just wish your prices were a little higher,'” he said.
Bezos said that when a business leader can identify those big ideas that are stable — and are usually customer needs — it changes how the leader organizes their business, what they fund, what risks they take, and so one. The focus becomes, “What can we do to offer lower prices? To deliver faster? and so on,” Bezos said.
In contrast, he said that when a leader bases their strategy on things that will change, like who the competitors are and what their activities are, “you are going to have to be changing your strategy all the time.”
And, he added that when it comes to knowing what won’t change, “you won’t have to do a lot of research on that. As soon as you think about it that way, these things are so big, so fundamental; you can just write the answers down.”