Amazon executive Doug Herrington can sum up the formula for his company’s rapid innovation in ten rules. Herrington, a 1988 Princeton alumnus, shared those rules, along with reflections on his own career journey, during a talk on campus Nov. 30.
Students, faculty, staff and community members packed McCormick 101 to hear Herrington, senior vice president for North America retail at Amazon, deliver a G.S. Beckwith Gilbert ’63 Lecture, an event co-sponsored by the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education and the Bendheim Center for Finance.
Cornelia Huellstrunk, the Keller Center’s executive director, introduced Herrington by saying that Herrington’s talk is exceedingly timely. “It seems that not a day goes by without there being coverage of Amazon in the news or Amazon touching our lives personally,” Huellstrunk said, noting discussions around her own dinner table about the company’s Amazon Prime service and its recent purchase of Whole Foods. Huellstrunk welcomed “an inside view into a company that we all hear so much about and interact with so frequently.”
Herrington said the grounding philosophy of Amazon’s ten rules of innovating focuses on taking risks – being willing to fail, learning from failures, saying yes to ideas that seem destined to fail, and applauding teams that put in the effort even if they do not bring their innovations to market are what Amazon is all about.
- Rule #1. Start with the customer and work backwards
- Rule #2. Be eager to invent and pioneer
- Rule #3. Focus on the long term
- Rule #4. Bias towards the institutional “Yes”
- Rule #5. Create programs, not projects
- Rule #6. Assign single-thread leaders
- Rule #7. Be stubborn on the vision, flexible on the details
- Rule #8. Be willing to be misunderstood
- Rule #9. Be willing to fail but don’t repeat your mistakes
- Rule #10 and most important — visit princeton.edu and read full article
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