Success Monday: Why Every Amazon Meeting Has at Least One Empty Chair

How much Amazon has changed retail and how the world shops cannot be overstated. Its success has led to its founder, Jeff Bezos, being named earlier this year by Forbes magazine to be the wealthiest man in the world. But to this day he guides his business by one founding principal, according to author and consultant John Koetsier, writing in Inc.com.

“Amazon is a retail giant, a technology leader, and one of the world’s top brands. But there’s something missing at every single meeting in the company.

No, it’s not an agenda. But it does have something to do with the overall company agenda.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is famously obsessed with customers. He’s known for saying, “Start with the customer and work backward,” and that’s the reason that every project or product at Amazon starts with a press release that features sample customer quotes. It’s something that has stood the 20-year-old “startup” in good stead.

“Obsessing over customer experience is the only long-term defensible competitive advantage,” Bezos has said.

That can be challenging to remember, however.

So Amazon makes it impossible to forget.

“One problem is that the customer isn’t really there at every meeting,” an Amazon insider told me recently. “So what we like to do at every meeting is we reserve a seat for the customer.”

It sounds cheesy, and it probably feels that way sometimes for insiders.

But it is a way of visually compelling every meeting participant and every discussion to reference Amazon’s customers. And it’d be hard to argue that the company’s single-minded obsession with customers hasn’t stood it in good stead.”

John Koetsier is a “mobile economist for TUNE, a Seattle-based, global developer of mobile analytics and performance marketing platforms. You can follow him on Twitter @johnkoetsier. He wrote this for Inc.com.