For Want of Imagination

In early 1992, I  recommended that the Star Tribune newspaper (Minneapolis, MN)  investigate using our distribution system (warehouses, computer system, trucks, knowledge, and experience) to deliver items that would be purchased on the Internet and delivered to purchaser’s doors. I imagined that we could become a regional distribution company. I was told that what I proposed was not “our business.”

In 1995, Jeff Bezos began Amazon.com. He delivered the first packages to the post office himself and had trouble raising $1 million. Since then, Amazon.com has reinvented itself over and over again and today has 225 million customers worldwide. Their mission is: “To sell everything to everyone.”

Since 1995, the newspaper industry failed to renew itself and crashed and burned because of the Internet.

In 2009, the Star Tribune filed for bankruptcy.

Within five years, Amazon plans to deliver products to customer’s doors within 30 minutes via drones.  Drones may or may not materialize. What is important is that Amazon continues to imagine, experiment, and get new ideas from new things.

The newspaper industry doesn’t have a vision for a sustainable future.

Amazon had what the newspaper industry lacked: imagination.

Jeff Bezos recently purchased the Washington Post.

For more about my career at the Star Tribune and the newspaper industry see my book: “Value Driven Leadership: A Story of Personal and Organizational Transformation.”

One thought on “For Want of Imagination

  1. What a great column! How do we as a culture foster imagination? What can I do as a volunteer in a kindergarten class for an hour and a half do to foster creativity? Even though the group of children I see changes every 15-20 minutes, I see them using their imagination all the time. It’s really amazing what they say and what they create. Best wishes, Margaret Eubank

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