Not sure why I ended up on the Ajax Sys-con site, but David Heinemeier Hansson's Blog has a great posting about Amazon's success story: "Work from the customer backward. Focus on value you want to deliver for the customer.
Force developers to focus on value delivered to the customer instead of building technology first and then figuring how to use it.
Start with a press release of what features the user will see and work backwards to check that you are building something valuable.
End up with a design that is as minimal as possible. Simplicity is the key if you really want to build large distributed systems....
Getting rid of the influence of the HiPPO’s, the highest paid people in the room. This is done with techniques like A/B testing and Web Analytics.
Everyone must be able to experiment, learn, and iterate. Position, obedience, and tradition should hold no power. For innovation to flourish, measurement must rule."
There is nothing to add to this great post except that you should read the entire article.