Jeff Bezos most recent letter to employees is a profound and enlightening statement about how a company can remain relevant and lead over an extended period. In this age when the average lifetime of a company on the S&P 500 is getting shorter and shorter, Bezos states clearly how he intends to stay in “Day 1” for many decades. The key is to never, ever let operational excellence overwhelm the drive to reinvent your business. Or as he puts it:

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1”

The keys to a perpetual ‘Day-1” are:

  1. Customer obsession
  2. Vigilance against process becoming a proxy for true insight
  3. Eagerness to jump on powerful, external trends
  4. High-velocity decision making – “disagree and commit”

Bezos’ comments about customers and decisions are beautifully articulated. On customers:

“Customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great… A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey… Market research and customer surveys can become proxies for customers”

And on high-velocity decision making:

“…speed matters in business … never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process… most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. use the phrase “disagree and commit.”. recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately.  “You’ve worn me down” is an awful decision-making process.”

It’s well worth reading the entire letter and thinking about how your own company could  apply this mindset.

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