Each year, Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, writes a shareholder letter, and it gains a lot of attention and interest. While much has been written about his decision-making approach, his insights on customer-centricity, proxies, and external trends took a back seat. With the frame of always, always avoid day 2, the added perspective deserves its own space.
To sum his decision-making approach, there are two key elements:
- “…most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.”
- “I wrote back right away with ‘I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made.’ Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.”
Amen. I worked in places where 100%+ plus of the information was needed to reach a decision. Even if we had 90% of the information, the decision was lost on the weight of getting consensus. Get the 70% of the information and disagree and commit if you cannot get to agree and commit. A solid decision-making principle.
All of this leads to the importance of avoiding Day 2.
Always, Always Avoid Day 2
In the words of Jeff Bezos:
“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
Day 2 is decline. Indecision leads to Day 2.
Too many companies and individuals get stuck in Day 2. Living, leading, and managing with a freshness of Day 1 is vital.
- Day 1 equals innovation.
- Day 1 encourages creativity.
- Day 1 fosters growth.
If we have a Day 2 mindset, we begin to nail one foot down and turn in circles. The results: Little progress, bureaucracy, and fixed mindsets.
How to Avoid Day 2
Intensity of Customer Centricity
Diligent customer focus protects Day 1. Customers change their minds. They may be satisfied but with a streak of unknown dissatisfaction that can arise at a moment’s notice. When organizations take their attention off customers, they may miss the switch. Happiness is fleeting; continuous attention raises awareness. Attentive awareness is the standard.
Anticipate is an added standard. Unless coupled with the decision-making framework of disagree and commit, anticipation loses to Day 2. Knowing customers does not mean only designing to their current needs. Without anticipation, a different, better solution will eclipse your existing offer. Suddenly, your customer offering slipped to Day 2 and decline begins.
Be attentive and anticipate to keep Day 1 with your customers, every day.
Avoid the Danger of Proxies
Proxies come in different forms. Proxies can be point-in-time market research instead of direct customer experience. Proxies can be processes, meaning a mentality of “The process made me do it.”
Individual responsibility eliminates proxies, especially when responsibility and accountability are intertwined. Common sense equals business, customer, stakeholder, and innovation intelligence.
To avoid Day 2, never be overtaken by a process. Always stand up to do the right thing in the right way at the right time. Be active in your research and work.
Common sense equals business, customer, stakeholder, and innovation intelligence.Tweet
Don’t Ignore External Trends
Technology overpowers organizations unless they use technology to overpower the status quo. Too many organizations ignore technological change and trends to their subsequent downfall. What happens, in my experience, is an overriding message of “stay focused” instead of “change or be changed.” In the latter case, the change is usually buyout or bankruptcy.
Change is continuous, and recognizing how to use technology and data changes to your advantage is critical.
Ignoring external trends leads to Day 2. To stay in Day 1, understand trends, adapt, devise, implement, refresh, and repeat.
Prevent Day 2; Stay Present in Day 1
Complacency is easy. Lead the hard way by innovating and being bold each Day 1.
Go to Day 2 and fade away. Keep in Day 1 and avoid disappearing into a fog of despair, destruction, and bleakness.
What is really at stake is creativity and innovation. With a creative mindset, new solutions evolve and become future offerings. Being active with customers, information, implementation, and trends raises our innovative prowess. The result is a sustainable, growing business and leadership capability.
Avoid Day 2. Lead with a Day 1 attitude each day.
Avoiding Day 2 relates to staying creative while growing a business. This topic was a part of our Facebook group (newly formed) conversation, using Pixar as the example. To engage in the conversation, join our Common Grounder Facebook group.