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Amazon asks the right questions

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The success of Amazon points to the importance of building a business with the capability to transform itself.

Shorter business life cycles are one reason organizations must focus on transformation. The average time a company stayed on the S&P in 1958 was 57 years; by 2008, it was 18 years.

The challenge for leaders, says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is not to know all the answers, but to ask the right questions.

“If you want to continuously revitalize the service that you offer to your customers, you cannot stop at what you are good at,” says Bezos. “You have to ask what your customers need and want, and then, no matter how hard it is, you better get good at those things.”

The lesson: The road to the next big thing can be traveled only by those with open minds.

—Adapted from "Amazon's Smart Innovation Strategy," Mark W. Johnson, BusinessWeek.


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