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Jeff Bezos asked a question that blew me away!

Here’s the question:

This piece of wisdom came from Jeff Bezos, founder 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?”

What a great insight.

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 key levers in businesses are found in little things that are really outperforming, whether by intention or not.

Why is this question so intriguing?

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

Looking for that silver lining…

[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?

Is “doubling down” a pivot for your core focus?

Can we 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 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.

Could you be missing your “surprise breakout?”

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.

  • William Dolphin

    It stems from the 80:20 rule that so many give a nod to, then ignore. Put effort and focus on understanding what’s working – but that does not mean ignoring what’s not working. Goes along with the idea of ‘catching people doing good’. Drive the business through success not by emphasizing failure.

  • Stephen Fluharty

    Reminds me of book to focus on your individual strengths, not on your weaknesses.

  • Arthur Lipper

    A determination regarding the most effective application of resources should be based on a cost/benefit analysis of the possible success, if achieved. Concentration of assets should be on that which can change overall outcomes, and not just making operational improvements.

  • Harley Kaufman

    Hi Dave. Intuitively over the years it seems that I’ve been doing (without awareness) what Bezos recommends. I’ve always described it as “managing by exception”. What I mean is that I’ve always been as interested in why some numbers were up as opposed to just investigating why some numbers were down. Numbers up OR down both require examination in order to address problems or leverage successes.

    Have a Happy New Year.

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