In April 2017 Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in his annual letter to shareholders urged his employees to embrace what he calls “Day 1” and stay there for as long as possible.
“Fight the idea that ‘Day 2’ has arrived…Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
Stirring words from Bezos and followed by the analysis that Day 2 is when companies start focusing on perfecting processes instead of managing by outcomes. He says Amazon fights “Day 2 thinking” by “embracing external trends”, most recently, machine learning and AI, and by promoting “high-velocity decision-making”.
The key to that, he says, is a willingness by both leaders and employees to “disagree and commit”. Trying to get everyone to agree on a course of action is paralyzing; say your part and then go with the plan.
Features of Amazon’s Day 1 are:
True Customer Obsession
Bezos focuses on customer service rather than, say technology or product design or business model structure, because customers are always “beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied”. He adds that customers always want “something better and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf”.
This feature is a little less straightforward but what Besoz means here is that as companies become larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage by proxy. An example is process as a proxy. He says that following the process produces the desired outcome until the outcome changes and if the outcome regularly changes then unless the business is vigilant and agile it manages by proxy and quickly loses touch.
Embracing External Trends
Here Besoz is saying that as a Day 1 company Amazon has to embrace rather than resist external trends quickly to benefit from a tailwind rather than face a headwind. Current examples of such trends are machine learning and artificial intelligence.
High-Velocity Decision Making
Besox explains that whilst Day 2 companies can make high-quality decisions, they make them slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, Amazon has to make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. Easy for start-ups but very challenging for large organizations like Amazon. Nevertheless, Amazon makes decisions like a small company would.
This Day 1 thinking ensures that Amazon remain one of the most successful companies in the world and from his outline it would seem that Amazon need to employ mentally tough people to successfully implement the philosophy. Mentally tough people are committed, tenacious and resolute and also possess the following MTQ48 4C characteristics:
to enable them to respond positively to the the intense pressure created by rapid change and customer demands.
Mentally tough people:
- are high in the Control C – comfortable in their own skin and in control of their own destiny which gives them stability, an emotional anchor, which is a necessary mindset to cope with a rapidly changing environment.
- manage their emotions well and are high on Emotional Management and Interpersonal Confidence, subscales within Control and Confidence. Therefore they are able to work comfortably within the “Disagree and Commit” culture. Conflict or friction won’t phase them at all.
- show strong Commitment and are used to consistently meeting the tight deadlines and high standards created by the “true customer obsession”.
- are high on Challenge and as a result are very comfortable with the constant changing landscape required to embrace dynamic external trends and the lack of structure and routine in the high velocity decision making process.
Amazon will want to employ people with sufficient Confidence in their own abilities to complete the necessary Day 1 tasks.
It has been proven that mentally tough people perform better, are more positive and engaged, are more adaptive and agile and better manage their stress and wellbeing than the majority of the population.
For Amazon and other businesses working in a dynamic and change environment that need mentally tough people the MTQ48 psychometric measure enables them to test for mental toughness during the hiring process. Allowing them to screen out those people who don’t possess the positive mindset and mental toughness required to consistently manage the demands of a Day 1 culture.
For more on MTQ48 and developing mental toughness contact us.