“Train like your stronger, fitter, faster evil twin is trying to kill you.”

– popular CrossFit saying

Companies settle into what Jeff Bezos calls ‘Day 2’ all too naturally.

Long-term thinking is in short supply in corporate America these days. But is this changing? For decades, the ‘Agency’ model of corporate governance has dominated institutional investment and corporate behavior. In this model, the fundamental premise is that management’s objective should be maximizing value for shareholders. Its precepts have come to be widely regarded as a model for “good governance”. An alternative perspective is emerging.

The concept of putting learning on an equal footing with ‘operating efficiency’ is often talked about, but rarely done. Talking about how your company is a ‘learning organization’ is easy to do, but hard to realize. Despite the long history of research that indicates that learning is one of the most important things a company must do, it remains an activity that most companies do not explicitly devote much time and attention to.

Amazon is regularly put forth as one of the preeminent exemplars of the modern, innovative corporation and many have written about what makes them ‘special’. This article identifies an aspect of Amazon’s behavior that contributes to their success that is indeed different from how most companies behave. The behavior in question – creating their own ‘evil twin’. Amazon is opening up every aspect of their business as a platform that others can use and is, in essence, enabling companies that directly compete with their core business. As the author points out: “Each piece of Amazon is being built with a service-oriented architecture, and Amazon is using that architecture to successively turn every single piece of the company into a separate platform — and thus opening each piece to outside competition.” In other words, each of the services Amazon uses internally, also competes in the open market.