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Even the billionaire CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world doesn’t get automatic employee buy-in on his ideas. That’s why Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a key phrase he recommends when trying to win support for a given solution during a tough decision.
“You don’t say ‘I’m right on this, go do this,’ you say ‘I want you to gamble with me on this,’” Bezos explained, an especially apt catchphrase given his seat on stage in Las Vegas, where he delivered the final keynote talk of Amazon’s re:MARS conference on Thursday.
When facing uncertainty about the best way to solve a problem, Amazon employees are taught to “disagree and commit,” Bezos said, quoting from one of the company’s fourteen leadership principles, which also include “bias for action” and “customer obsession.” By acknowledging there is no clear right answer — that every choice involves risk — employees are encouraged to try things out more quickly.
“If you had to get the very last person in the room to have genuine consensus on an idea, it might never happen and you might waste a lot of time,” Bezos says. Sometime’s he’s the one using the phrase, he says, and sometimes he’s the one agreeing to take the gamble.
“When I do it, I will say, ‘I don’t agree with this, I think it’s probably not going to work,’ but I will never say ‘I told you so,’” he says. “I’m going to be on your team and do everything I can to make it work.”
While Bezos also shared his advice for entrepreneurs — be passionate and willing to take risks — the most surprising part of the keynote was when, middway through, a woman ran from the audience onto the stage. Although her short speech was inaudible before a handful of guards dragged her off, she seemed to be asking Bezos about chicken farms, likely in reference to facilities used by Whole Foods, which Amazon owns.
Bezos and his interviewer, Amazon’s director of forecasting Jenny Freshwater, both remained calm throughout the interruption.
“Do you have a response to that?” Bezos asked Freshwater.
The four-day conference focused on artificial intelligence, robotics and space. Earlier in the event Amazon announced its latest version of its Prime delivery drone and Robert Downey Jr. announced a project to clean up the environment.
June 6, 2019 at 03:52PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs