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Disruption Selling: Unleashing the Power of the Single-threaded Team

Updated: Apr 13, 2023


“Single-threaded teams will know their customers’ needs better, spend all their waking work hours inventing for them, and develop context and tempo to keep iterating quickly.”

Andy Jassy, CEO Amazon, Letter to Shareholders 2021


The concept of single-threaded, multi-disciplinary teams is one of Amazon’s key success drivers. It starts with clearly defining the ownership of a team (e.g., the performance of a product category on the marketplace, an AWS API or a checkout process) across all required roles and responsibilities. Single-threaded means the team and its members are fully dedicated to the outcome they own and can autonomously make any decision required to produce this outcome.


Assigning Single-threaded, multi-disciplinary teams to customer portfolios drives Customer Centricity, Thinking Big, and Ownership as the key success factors of a Disruptor.


Within such a team members will put the customer always first and work backwards from there across roles and responsibilities. Technology Managers will not shy away from commercial discussions, Account Managers will not reject a discussion of technical product or service features with the customer just because it’s not part of their job.


All roles work closely and trustfully together to build an ambitious, even outsized vision for exciting their assigned customers driving adoption of the Disruptive Innovation. The entire team owns the successes and failures, there won’t be finger-pointing towards each other for the inevitable failures the team will make in experimenting with the go-to-market plan.


Single-threaded, multi-disciplinary teams make decisions fast. There are no cadence calls and complex approval processes. Customer requests and challenges are tackled immediately involving only those members required to make the decision. If a decision must be made right within a customer call the team member involved will make this decision, whether it is part of their role or not.


Agility, risk-taking and momentum of a single-threaded, multi-disciplinary team cannot be matched by Incumbents with traditional, function-oriented sales organizations, multi-level hierarchies, and slow and risk-averse decision-making processes.


On top of the Disruptive Innovation's unique value proposition these capabilities of a Single-threaded team are the fundamental source of competitive differentiation a Disruptor needs to overcome customer inertia and Incumbents' resistance.


For a customer, dealing with a such a team is refreshingly different: Instead of busloads of sales resources just one team member shows up and makes decisions, instantaneously. Every team member is aware of the status of the relationship and its objectives. Commitments to the customer are made as a team and delivered as a team.


As a result, a solid trust base emerges allowing the customer to take the inherent risk of adopting the Disruptive Innovation.


For more details on Single-threaded, multi-disciplinary teams go to https://www.disruption-selling.com/resource/execsum-portfolio-team.

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