If you can’t do it better, then just shut up!
It is interesting that in today’s economically challenging times, the so called experts, and public in general continue to criticize companies like Amazon and their executive teams for being responsible and for knowing their business, and prise companies like Enron for their above market results. Of course the same experts quickly move to other topics when their former idols fail taking down with them not only their empires, but the dreams and savings of millions after their schemes fail the test of time. I wonder what may happen if/when all of those experts who helped the pump and dump schemes, are held responsible for promoting the companies and their subsequent failures.
As it happened years ago with Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos was recently criticized for not prioritizing short term profits (for speculators), and for investing the company profits in order to improve the service to their customers. By doing that the company (Amazon) helped increase the value of their services by directly converting their operational cost reductions to customers in the form of lower prices. It seems that many of the so called industry “experts” and “speculators” only care about what lines their pockets at the end of the quarter and not the true long term value of the company.
Sadly this is not a trend limited to the monday morning quarterbacks, but copied all around by company executives and boards of directors all over corporate america, and potentially the world. Some CEO’s even retain their jobs and paychecks even when the company stock value still have not recuperated since the crash of the year 2000, even when they have conducted massive rounds of layoffs and reorganizations. It seems that just the title makes people immune to the consequences of their failures, without regards to the consequences for their customers, employees, or even shareholders.
In the recent case of Amazon, industry experts criticized the company for consistently having relatively low profit margins in an industry filled with examples of companies that crashed and burned through billions in shareholders and investors money, while lining their CXO’s and experts pockets on the mean time. In my opinion the majority of the “industry experts” are no better at their jobs than the regular gambler at Las Vegas, and usually even worst than the standard meteorological TV commentators “there is a probability that it may rain, or not, and we may have some clouds or not, and there will be some sun or not….. and even that is subject to change”.. 🙂
I believe that one of the biggest challenges today for the U.S. is the disconnect between authority, and responsibility. It may be time to make people accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) and to reward or punish them according to their results (not their promises). Of course I also understand that this will mean that suddenly we may lose over 90% of our current executives (and even 90% of the current government and politicians), to which I can only paraphrase Bezo’s letter”
America’s obsession with short-term profitability has become so pervasive in our culture that even outside observers — journalists, for example — often snicker about Amazon’s relatively low profit margins.
They should not be snickering.
They should be applauding.
And they should be encouraging other American corporations to follow Amazon’s inspiring lead — to invest more of today’s profits in tomorrow’s opportunities, product development, customer loyalty, and dedicated employees.
More fundamentally, I think long-term thinking squares the circle. Proactively delighting customers earns trust, which earns more business from those customers, even in new business arenas. Take a long-term view, and the interests of customers and shareholders align.