Many innovators and strategists are obsessed with predicting how the world will change in the future.
They then try to develop new products and business models to fit this new world.
But often, it can be even more valuable to figure out what will not change in the future.
At an AWS discussion in 2012, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared some insights on how he thinks about the future and how it informs his innovation investment decisions:
(See the video at the top of this blog article).
“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’
And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time … In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection.
It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. […] When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”
This way of thinking about what will not change allows Amazon to have a crystal clear focus on where it wants to innovate.
It is related to the concept of Hard Trends by Daniel Burrus, discussed in this previous podcast episode.
If you know what will not change, you can build an innovation strategy that continues to deliver what customers will definitely want in the future.
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