Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022Liked by Steven Sinofsky

Another great post. These are fantastic.

As an ex-Amazonian, one of the things that sticks out for me is the huge disappointment you all set up for yourself because of the focus on what Notes did, and not your customers.

This is precisely why within Amazon, it is, at the very least, considered bad form to even talk about competitors when you're advocating why to do something or not. No one, least of all JeffB@, wants to hear it.

In this article, as before, you cite Notes as a driver for what you needed to do, rather than the customers you wanted to serve, though you do talk about acting like you were still serving hobbyists instead of enterprise customers. That said, it is the case that when you're chasing taillights, what first-mover competitors were able to sell is a useful second-level proxy for what customers want. But it's only a starting point.

I noticed in 1991, when Melinda asked me to sit in on a review of Symantec GreatWorks for the Mac, that people from Office and the Works team - who hadn't shipped yet - kept saying, "Oooh we have to have that" and other talk that would threaten their impending shipping dates if they acted upon it... not because the customers needed these features in Works 1.0, but because a competitor had them. There were a dozen people there performing a forensic examination of that product to extract must-have features. This dynamic seemed pervasive. Heck, I was there only because we at Pixelite had a quick implementation of WordArt that could be used to compete with PowerUp!'s consumer desktop publishing package for Publisher 1.0. We were told that was the reason they did the deal with us.

I admired this competitor focus at the time. I grew suspicious of it as I matured.

In general, in loops for candidates from MSFT for AMZN, we always pressed hard on customer obsession, to make sure that it was the core driver, rather than competitor obsession, the latter which we tended to see in mid-level people from MSFT far too often.

I may be misreading you here. You do talk a lot about steering the company towards obsessing about listening to LORGs more, etc. You also talk about it as a struggle. Maybe reading this into it, but it seems like it was a deep struggle.

I knew it was time to retire when I had to explain that for the 1000th time, gift someone with the MMM, etc.

"Cutting is shipping". Brilliant way to summarize it. Succint.

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