After reading your address to shareholders, 2016, I am induced to write this. Your letter moves me in two ways, one with day1 philosophy and two with your strategic solutions to remain in #day1. While the #day1 philosophy is inspiring enough to reflect upon incessantly, I have some ‘disagree to commit’ situations which I feel worth discussing and this post is all about that. The strategies to make anyone relevant in day1 are commendable and I personally feel it presents years of strategic research.
For the benefit of other readers, let me first restate the first few paragraphs from your address to shareholders as it is.
“Jeff, what does #Day2 look like?”
That’s a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I’ve been reminding people that it’s Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic.
“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
To be sure, this kind of decline would happen in extreme slow motion. An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.
I’m interested in the question, how do you fend off Day 2? What are the techniques and tactics? How do you keep the vitality of Day 1, even inside a large organization?
Such a question can’t have a simple answer. There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps. I don’t know the whole answer, but I may know bits of it. Here’s a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making.
On Day 1 Philosophy:
I am a fan, follower and a kind of disciple of Vedic philosophy which aligns me well with the definition of day1. However, day2 is not the beginning of decline and pain, it’s rather beginning of a new transformed state which comes based on Day1 knowledge.
The difference between the two thoughts is subtle but relevant to make a point that it’s not about the keeping the vitality of day1 but it’s about innovating and transforming in day1 itself so that we welcome day 2 with a new face. In such case, day2 becomes a new beginning and is always welcomed. The partial disagreement here is to commit to a change which is a bigger motivation than fear of decline and pain. The history of changing industries in transportation, computing, imaging, retailing validate this point, the companies that switched to day2 with new transformed state are still in relevance. Amazon itself is a continual transformation story, isn’t it? Yet, I agree if the vitality in day1 fades, the nature of day2 will not be a pleasant one.
Based on the interpretation of Vedic Philosophy by reading Bhagavad Gita, I can make a point on the human that is relevant to the virtual person like an organization as well. Day1 is the current reality, with efficiency, knowledge, intellect, we maintain the vitality of mind, body and the spirit. Whatever efforts we do to maintain the vitality of the body the inevitable decline will definitely come, but the journey of the consciousness and cognizance inside us continues. Whether it goes to a higher state or a lower one depends on the cumulative Karma and knowledge by end of the Day1. That’s why Vedic philosophy advocates the transformation to next level by good Karma in current reality. Organizations are no different.
On Starter Pack of Essentials for Day 1 Defense:
I have something to say on two elements of your four point recipe.
It’s over half of a decade now when the business world has understood the importance of consumer decision journey (CDJ) over sales funnel model practices earlier. When you say ‘customers are beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied’, it itself says a lot about customer obsession as a philosophy. Having worked in product management of a traditional industry I know how difficult it is institutionalizing consumer advocacy, an essential element of CDJ. When I see Amazon, it surprises me in many ways, consumer advocacy is an essential part of Amazon eco-system that’s too for the product manufactured by others. Yet, that eco-system is Amazon’s product which neither any retailer nor any manufacturer can match. The others I admire are ‘Intel’ who did it through product marketing and ‘Dove’ who did it by institutionalizing ad campaign. I am sure much before Harvard discovered CDJ, Amazon was working on that.
On high-velocity decision making, you institutionalized empowerment that is revolutionary. It’s like developing employed entrepreneur. Isn’t it a great idea? Intuitive decision making even with 70% information needs subject knowledge, alignment with vision and commitment to a larger purpose. Aren’t they the essential elements of SQ driven entrepreneurship? ‘Disagree to commit’, your philosophy of taking initiative, will evolve automatically from the induced entrepreneurship. I feel it’s an outcome than a trait any leader would like to have in his team.
In the end, congratulations to you on cracking down #1 spot -the world’s richest man! My best wishes!
Photo by A spray painting by Thierry Ehrmann of Jeff Bezos on the Abode of Chaos in Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or, France.
First published at Linkedin @ https://www.linkedin.com/…/open-letter-jeff-bezos-santosh-s…