Bezos insisted the company needed to master anything that touched the hallowed customer experience, and he resisted any efforts to project profitability. “If you are planning for more than twenty minutes ahead in this kind of environment, you are wasting your time,” he said in meetings.
As usual in the PC business, the prize didn’t go to the inventor but to the exploiter of the invention.
It was the Work-Out program of the early 1990s that gave birth to GE’s voracious appetite for new ideas. This program put to rest the long-held view that only the CEO and GE’s senior management knew what was best for its employees. As chief financial officer Dennis Dammerman observes: “Historically, at GE, inventors and creators, rather than doers, were made into heroes. You wanted to take personal credit for everything good that happened, because that’s how you got to be a hero. Look at Thomas Edison. He wasn’t a very good businessman. It was J. P. Morgan who bailed him out in 1892, but it was obviously Thomas Edison, not J. P. Morgan, who was the hero of our company in the 1890s. Well, today, you get to be a hero not just by inventing but also by recognizing a good idea and having your team implement it.” If GE had to rely on Jack Welch for all its ideas, the CEO remarks wryly, “it would take only an hour for it to sink.
We currently live in the most exciting economic times man has ever known. Today’s “Entrepreneurial Revolution” is overhwleming the “Industrial Revolution” of the late 18th and 19th centuries in terms of tapping into and unleashing man’s inherent ability to create, innovate, and prosper.