Welcome back to the third in the Amazon Leadership series, where I review each of the Amazon Leadership principles that have been established by the Amazon Leadership team. These principles have propelled Amazon into one of the largest businesses in the world, here I review the third Amazon Leadership Principle, Invent and simplify.

If you want to see the full list of Amazon Ledership Principles, please take a look at my first blog on the subject here.

Invent and Simplify
Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here”. Because we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

Simplification is where this principle starts, even though it essentially chronologically comes second. Leaders are expected to always find ways to simplify, and naturally they are required to expect this from their teams also. This is a sound objective, as smart people across the corporate landscape have a propensity to overcomplicate things, or in fact use the policies and processes that are already in place to overcomplicate things, often extending existing madness.

This focus on simplification is a solid expectation, but often incredibly difficult to achieve. Often simplification requires significant change, which in itself is not always….. simple. Simplification can also lead to having to work around, or smash through existing complications, and this is no bad thing either, but requires many of the other principles in this list to be in place at the same time. Nevertheless, difficulty should not lead to the omission of any of these principles, the fact that they are difficult to implement and execute is what makes them so critically important.

Be Externally Aware

This principle also requires leaders to be “externally aware” not always simply looking inwards, so they must understand whats happening in the external world, in their competition and beyond. Most importantly it calls out the one thing you see often which is the “not invented here” syndrome. I can understand why we see this here, but it has broader connotations. Not invented here manifests itself in the workplace around implementing innovation and having it adopted. This also however hints at a high level of collaboration, asking for help and borrowing ideas, these are essential elements to an agile and innovative workplace.

Expect to be misunderstood for long periods of time.

The last sentence, is an outstanding job by the Amazon Leadership Team, the acceptance that because you are doing new and different things that you should expect to be misunderstood for long periods of time. This is essential, really very crucial to innovation and change. If you are forging new industries or equally making small changes in well established practices, you should expect resistance, and misunderstanding. These will often manifest themselves as people thinking you are mad, crazy or a poor communicator when most likely you are none of these things.

This principle is at the heart of innovation, and is an excellent piece of work by Amazon. If you are fascinated like me by Amazon’s rise at pace and want to learn more, there is a great book on the subject here

For the full list of principles, please see my first blog on this subject here  and watch out for the next in the series, coming very soon.

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