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Double down!

This piece of wisdom came from Jeff Bezos, founder & CEO of Amazon, during a board meeting for one of the companies where he sits as board member.  Jeff asked the question “Is there anything big or small, which is working better than you expected? Is there anywhere we could double down?”

Bezos’ point was that we spend a lot of time focusing on what’s not working in Board meetings (especially during difficult times) and not enough time focusing on what is surpassing expectations and how we can “double down” on those areas. Often times the Double-downkey levers in businesses are found in little things that are really outperforming, whether by intention or not.

Although the scale of those businesses Jeff Bezos works with is probably much larger than those we deal with, his question is intriguing for multiple reasons.

[Email readers, continue here…]  We worry over projections and fix our budgets to match, and then we manage to the revenue and costs of the budget.   But what if we separate ourselves from that mindset long enough to search for and find sparks of success sometimes buried within our sales statistics.  A geographic territory or single product in a larger product line, or a service that was developed as an afterthought:  do any show unusual signs of breaking out and becoming unanticipated successes?

Do we have the ability to change our thought process, alter our marketing focus, take resources from other areas if needed, and double down to back up potential winners in the making?  Most of us would track the increased revenues, look at those in the light of total revenue progress, and monitor the actuals against the budget.  A visionary like Jeff Bezos might pivot to make the rising star a centerpiece of our focus, quickly adding resources to support it, and seeing how far we could push it to make an unexpected success.

We all should have our antenna up looking for what’s working, and where we should double down.  Surprise breakouts are rare and wonderful, to be supported immediately to the limits of our resources.  That’s the way small companies become big companies.  It’s the way surprising new products and services emerge from the pack and create new market leaders.

  • Judith Connolly

    Double down on things that are working, love that perspective. I am looking forward to amazon stores. Their best selling items on display. I can’t wait.

  • Michael O'Daniel

    Inspiring post. Always be on the lookout for opportunities — they can come from the most unexpected places. (Which leads to another mantra of mine: listen to everyone in the company, not just the C-levels or your peers.) And think big. There is no merit in thinking small. It costs you nothing to explore “what if?” scenarios. And sometimes you’ll find that when a particular product or service is not selling as well as you think it should, perhaps you could re-frame it for, or sell something different to, the same prospect list. After all, the prospect list has incredible value, so ask yourself, what could I do to serve the customer’s needs better? I learned a long time ago, “It ain’t what we want to sell, it’s what the customer wants to buy.”

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