Amazon’s Day 1 Mindset

In recently published Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and CEO explains why — from the beginning — he and his management team have been guided by a Day 1 mindset. “Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept [and learn from] failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.”

What if you don’t stay in Day 1?

“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 establish company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final [inevitable] result would still come.”

Bezos also explains what he characterizes as “high-velocity decision making” which enables Amazon to sustain its Day 1 mindset.

“First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process.

“Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70 percent of the information you wish you had.

“Third, use the phrase ‘disagree and commit.’ It’s helpful to say, ‘Look, I know we disagree on this, but will you gamble with me on it?’ By the time you’re at this point, no one can know for the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

“Fourth, recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately.”

Bezos constantly asks, “Are we delighting customers? We can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. But we have to choose it.” And then make it happen.

Thomas Edison reminds all of us: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

* * *

Invent & Wander was published by Harvard Business Review Press (November 2020).

I also highly recommend these two books:

The Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders
Ram Charan and Julia Yang
Ideapress Publishing (December 10, 2019)

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Brad Stone
Little, Brown & Company (August 12, 2014)

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