CHAPTER FIVE

THE CAPABILITIES SYSTEM

When Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com as “the world’s biggest bookstore” in 1995, people took that slogan at face value. Here was a great new way to buy printed reading material. But Bezos knew that books were just an initial proof-point. Music CDs came next, and then Amazon suddenly became a clothing store, a pharmacy, a bicycle shop, an electronics outlet, and a gourmet food emporium—all rolled into one and reachable through your computer. Not everything worked; Amazon’s foray into online auctions faltered. But with a culture that tolerated failure as long as it came with learning, Amazon has kept on trying and has succeeded far more often than it has failed. It is an excellent example of a world-class capabilities ...

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