You need to have a culture that supports failure: Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos, Founder & Chief Executive of Amazon, spoke on a wide array of topics in a fireside chat with Amit Agrawal, Country Head, Amazon India


At the inaugural of Amazon Smbhav, a two-day summit aimed at bringing business owners together, Jeff Bezos, Founder and Chief Executive of Amazon, spoke on a wide array of topics in a fireside chat with Amit Agrawal, Country Head, Amazon India.

Speaking about the rise of Amazon over the years and the level of scale it has achieved in over two decades, Bezos said, “I have seen Amazon at every scale level. I have seen it when it had just one person (Bezos himself), 10 persons, 100 persons, 1000 people, and today around the world it has 700,000 people. At each stage, I had to lead the company differently. You go from the question of ‘How’, to the question of ‘What’ and finally to the question of ‘Who’.

Revealing the secret of this sustained scaling Bezos added, “ Make sure you are not only hiring people that you can teach, but hire people that can teach you and can be your tutors. That has been the secret to the scaling of Amazon all along the way.”

In recent times, Amazon has been beset with challenges in India and has been accused of predatory pricing. The government has also set in motion new regulations concerning the e-commerce sector in a bid to protect domestic stakeholders.

When asked about his share of failures and how he deals with it, Bezos said, “Amazon is the best place in the world to fail, and there are multiple kinds of failures. There are two kinds that are really important— experiments, where you are trying to figure out something new that nobody in the world has done before. That is high-quality failure and you need to have a culture that supports failure.”

“There is the second kind of failure which you should try to avoid, that is operational excellence failure. When we go to open a new performance centre, for example, we know how to do that. If we fail at that, that is just bad execution and you should never celebrate that kind of failure”, he added.

During his conversation with Agrawal, Bezos also committed another one billion USD investment to digitise small and medium businesses in the country. Since its entry into the Indian market in 2013, Amazon has already invested USD 5.5 billion so far.

“25 years ago, Amazon was a tiny little company, not only was I driving packages to the post office, but I was also wrapping them and doing everything that small entrepreneurs do. Today we are announcing that we are going to invest an incremental one billion USD in digitising small and medium businesses and we will use Amazon’s size, scope and scale. We are going to use our global footprints to export 10 billion USD ‘Make In India’ goods by the year 2025. The goal is to make more people participate in the prosperity of India”, said Bezos.

When asked about the timing of this announcement, he added, “We are making this announcement now because of its working, and when something works you should double down on it and that is what we are doing.”

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