Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos recently became the second richest person in the world with a net worth of $75.3 billion. What’s the secret of his success? Every day he asks one simple question: “Are we a Day 1 or Day 2 Company?”
Day 1 Company
A Day 1 Company makes the decision that every day will be a new day where experimenting, inventing and innovating are the norm. Day 1 companies are obsessed with their customers and not becoming a prisoner to process. They embrace new trends and weak signals early to stay ahead of the curve and practice high speed decision-making where 80% confidence is enough to act. In a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) waiting for 100% confidence is simply too slow.
A Day 1 Company removes proxies that kill innovation such as bureaucracy, waste and out-dated attitudes and practices. It has the spirit and agility of a startup whatever its history or size. General Electric calls itself a 125 year old startup for a reason. A Day 1 Company embraces intelligent failure. In uncertain environments stop worrying about the rate of failure because you can afford a lot of failures if they’re cheap. As the saying goes, “fail fast, fail cheap and move on”.
A Day 1 Company adopts a ‘learn it all’ culture instead of a ‘know it all’ culture and practices 4C leadership (creating, collaborating, changing and challenging). And it always need to be a state of perpetual beta optimizing the present, while creating new growth engines and business models for the future. And a Day 1 Company has a CEO of tomorrow rather than a CEO of yesterday, always disrupting the status quo and anticipating change before a crisis forces it to change. Tesla, AirBnB, UpTake Technologies and WeWork are all Day 1 Companies.
Day 2 Company
What does a Day 2 Company look like? “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why Amazon is always Day 1,” writes Bezos.
A Day 2 Company is the opposite of Day 1. The mindset is ‘business as usual’ and the way of thinking is Industrial Age and 2C leadership (command and control). A Day 2 Company is still obsessed with efficiency before innovation, hierarchy before empowerment and status quo before change.
When you walk into a Day 2 Company you see an SEP culture (“somebody else’s problem”). It’s endemic in most Day 2 Companies and is the opposite of Day 1. You know the characters: blame throwers, energy suckers, silent assassins, and misery monsters that drag the whole team down. A Day 2 culture means avoidance: excuses, inertia, and lazy back covering. Like a disease that’s airborne, SEP can contaminate a team, a company, and even you.
Day 2 Companies are literally sleepwalking into oblivion. Sun Microsystems, Blockbuster and Kodak became Day 2 Companies. Who’s next?
Are you a Day 1 or Day 2 Company? Now is not the time to preserve the status quo. It’s time for action: build a clear vision of the future, scale rapidly, and never stop learning.