The Growth Mindset and the ‘Era of Amazon’
Amazon had a big year in 2017. With its $13.4 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Markets; fierce competition for its new HQ2 and accompanying promise of 50,000 new jobs; reaching $500b in market capitalization, rivaling Facebook, Google, and Apple, and potential to reach $1 trillion in the next year; capturing almost 50% of U.S. online retail sales and CEO Jeff Bezos becoming the world’s wealthiest individual with a net worth greater than $100 billion , one could argue 2017 was the ‘Year of Amazon.’
2018 is shaping up to be no different. Amazon recently announced a joint venture with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to establish a healthcare organization to provide better service and outcomes to employees. Every industry worries about being “Amazoned”.
So how did a company that was founded in 1994 as an online bookseller become so dominant?
There is no one answer to this question. Yet, a clue could be in the culture Jeff Bezos established: a culture of learning, empowerment, and results. Bezos may not know it, but he has created a company organized around the principles of the growth mindset, as described by Carol Dweck.
The fundamental principle of the growth mindset is that intelligence can be developed, which means prioritizing the drive to learn. Those who adopt the growth mindset embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, and learn from criticism. So, yes, Amazon started as an online book seller, and then they learned about supply chain logistics to become the dominant retailer in the US; they learned how to leverage their technical infrastructure to become the dominant player in web services; they learned how to put 60-70 million Alexa devices in U.S. households. There is a good chance they’ll learn how to deliver consumer healthcare better than any organization today, if they choose to. They have the experience, culture, patience and people to figure it out.
So, what does it mean to lead in the era of Amazon?
It means senior leaders have to get culture right, and embed the growth mindset and the drive to learn in their organizations today to thrive in tomorrow’s business climate. This goes well beyond the 20% rule (as popularized by Google) and requires organizations to think deeply about their mission (why), vision (what), and values, strategic planning, and goals (how). Where does the growth mindset appear in your organization’s thinking, values, and approach? How about your senior leadership team? How is learning embedded, incentivized, and prioritized?
At Nebo, we work with leaders on these very issues so that these questions are the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, excited to tackle the day’s challenges, rather than worries that hold an organization and a leader back.