Why it is always Day 1 at Amazon

In Always Day One, Alex Kantrowitz explains that “Always Day One” is code at Amazon for “inventing like a startup, with little regard for legacy…in today’s business world, where Day Two is death, it’s the key to survival.” Kantrowitz suggests that what he calls the “Engineer’s Mindset” is the key to success within inventive cultures at companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

“The Engineer’s Mindset is a way of thinking — not a technical aptitude — that underpins a culture of building, creating, and inventing. It’s based on the way an engineer typically approaches work, but it’s not exclusive to any one occupation or level inside a company. The Engineer’s Mindset has three main applications:

Democratic Invention [inventive ideas are encouraged at all levels and in all areas of operation], Constraint-free hierarchy [anyone can approach anyone else to discuss ideas], and Collaboration [between and among relevant constituencies].”

All this stems from comments years ago by Jeff Bezos in his annual letter to Amazon’s shareholders: “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline.  Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Play to Stay on Top Forever, will be published by Portfolio/Penguin on April 7, 2020.

I also highly recommend two others: The Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders co-authored by Ram Charan and Julia Yang, published by Ideapress (December 2019), and, Lead from the Future: How to Turn Visionary Thinking into Breakthrough Growth, co-authored by Mark W. Johnson and Josh Suskewicz, published by Harvard Business Review Press (April 14, 2020).

Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.