Shockwaves were sent through the health care industry yesterday when three corporate powerhouses--Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase--announced they were teaming up in attempt to provide better health care for their collective employees (which currently number over a million people).
A joint statement from the three companies set the tone for what will no doubt be a challenging endeavor:
"Tackling the enormous challenges of health care and harnessing its full benefits are among the greatest issues facing society today," the statement reads. "By bringing together three of the world's leading organizations into this new and innovative construct, the group hopes to draw on its combined capabilities and resources to take a fresh approach to these critical matters."
Of course, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is no stranger to breaking new ground. His companies have already changed the face of retail, entertainment, and cloud-based storage services.
But where do you even begin when attempting to address such major challenges?
Bezos gave us a glimpse into the inner workings of his mind in that same joint statement. After acknowledging the complexity of the health care system and the degree of difficulty in attempting to exert change, he asserted that any chance of "reducing health care's burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort."
Bezos then summed up his winning formula in a single, brilliant sentence:
"Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner's mind, and a long-term orientation."
Before you dismiss Bezos's statement as PR speak, consider briefly the three tenets of this blueprint for action, and why they're so valuable.
1. Surround yourself with the right people.
If you're going to accomplish great things, you need a team of great people.
Notice how Bezos describes these people as "talented experts." Aren't all experts talented? In a sense, yes. But as years of research reveal, it's not only about who is on the team, but how they work together. That's why hiring is so important: You don't simply want a bunch of "brilliant jerks," as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings calls them. Rather, you want people who know what they're doing, and have the necessary emotional intelligence to work well with others at the same time.
2. Have a learn-it-all mindset.
The problem with putting a bunch of experts together is you run the danger of everyone thinking they have all the answers.
That's why it's important to have what Bezos refers to as "a beginner's mind." In other words, you don't want to be a know-it-all; you want to be a learn-it-all.
By doing this, you adopt a student's mentality, in which you rethink everything from the ground up. You're not forced to remain within outdated or irrelevant constraints, rather, you're looking for new and innovative solutions. Additionally, you're not concerned by how others view you, rather, you're focused on growth. That gives you the liberty to pursue bias for action, to experiment and make mistakes--and transform these into learning opportunities.
3. Be ready to play the long game.
Nobody said transforming an industry or solving major problems was easy.
Bezos knows this as much as anyone; he came under fire for decades when Amazon didn't turn a profit. But he didn't really care, because he knew that it would take time to achieve goals as lofty as the ones he had set--goals like fundamentally changing the way people shop.
Or, as stated clearly in the set of principles Amazon sets out for their leaders:
"They think long term and don't sacrifice long-term value for short-term results."
Talented experts. A beginner's mind. Long-term orientation. That's Jeff Bezos's formula for success.
You might want to give it a try.