There is a great deal of mythology surrounding the birth and growth of AWS. Tech idustry awe and amazement is mostly justified but generally focuses on weaving together a linear narrative path that was taken that got us where we are:
- Internal Problem Identified
- Solution Identified and resourced
- Aggressive iteration with continual expansion of problem/solution scope such that External stakeholders would see value
These steps are indeed a recipe that an established business could follow to create new high growth businesses but it does not fully explain how Amazon was uniquely in position to make AWS happen. It does not explain why AWS does not happen a lot. More often you see established companies shelving or selling off the fruits of internal innovation without ever capturing its value.
The secret seems to be a willingness to consciously avoid a “great idea – but that is not our business” trap where so many internal innovations go to die. It seems too easy too many times for leadership to do this. Avoid working at such places fellow dreamers and doers.
Amazon Turned a Flaw into Gold with Advanced Problem-Solving – HBR