“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.”
Amazon’s leadership principles have been written about a lot as the company has ascended from a startup to one of the largest companies in the world. The very first principle is “Customer Obsession.” On the Amazon jobs page they explain: “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”
It’s a mantra worth thinking about not only because of Amazon’s success, but because of the competitive era we live within. Whether you are serving business customers, suppliers, employees, or the citizens within your community, it is important to “become a fish” to understand if your product or service is user-friendly and adds value to the lives of the people you serve.
Understanding your customer from your own perspective is a great start. Understanding how others interpret data and use technology to serve customers will expand your mind even further. In a recent Financial Times article, Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said, “The question is how we can challenge ourselves to work with people who are not like-minded companions.” The company is getting closer to technology companies that many would consider threats to their business model, having developed alliances with Waymo, SoftBank, Grab and others to help them meet the changes in the automotive industry.
It is critical that you test and retest learnings and apply insights in real-time. None of us will ever have all of the information needed, but we can make better judgments if we make a hundred small bets, analyze and interpret the data, and obsess about our customer.