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Adopting Amazon's 'Day 1 mentality'

Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. - Jeff Bezos

Published on
January 13, 2021

First coined by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, the ‘Day 1’ mentality is at the core of the company’s success. ‘Day 1’ is a start-up mentality of excitement and ambition which fights challenges, embraces change, employs quick decision making and, most importantly, has an obsession with its customer. When you fall into a 'Day 2' mentality there is a tendency to rely on imperfect 'proxies'. External influences such as technological advancement are feared, and customers' needs are then replaced by business needs, product features or what competitors may be doing. Focusing on customer and employee experience is essential to business success and longevity. 

As companies grow larger and become more complex, there's a tendency to manage to proxies. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and it's dangerous, subtle, and very 'Day 2'. Proxies, e.g. something with authority to represent something else, run the risk of creeping into company ideology and one of the most prevalent issues we find is the mistaking of numbers for customer behaviour.

“Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customers.”  

Looking at numbers is necessary for guiding your assumptions and unearthing blind spots, however, relying solely on these numbers is dangerous territory. Data alone can be deceiving, and it's essential to look beyond the numbers by conducting empathetic research to truly understand your customers and your employees. Asking, listening, watching, and testing will unearth a raft of insights, behaviours and nuances that bring levels of understanding that are impossible to achieve through focusing on numbers alone. 

Equally important when you move beyond the discovery phase into design, the best way to get accurate and meaningful insight from customers is to show them a tangible prototype and proof of concept and observe their real-time responses, behaviour and interactions with your design. 

"There are many ways to centre a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality"

Being customer-focused is crucial – having the mentality of customer outcomes over product features is necessary. Adapt your mindset from thinking 'The business wants our customers to be able to do this' or 'Our competitors are doing this', to 'Our customers want to be able to achieve this'. Customer goals lead the way from designing to building experiences your customers love.

"Customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great."

Customers have evolving expectations – they look for more, something better, something easier, something more significant. Being customer obsessed and having the innate desire to serve and delight them will prove the most effective way to invent and innovate on their behalf and ultimately stay in 'Day 1' and ahead of the game. Getting deep insight at every stage of the design process is critical to ensuring you design your customer's ideal experience.

"The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won't or can't embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you're probably fighting the future. Embrace them, and you have a tailwind."

The world is changing. Technology is advancing faster than ever in history, and our customers are "in the future" so our view should be too. In order to survive in this era of AI and low-code/no-code, organisations need to be able to adapt and innovate and doing this right depends on a solid foundation of customer understanding and a robust CX strategy to anchor new initiatives and guide your focus. 

"These big trends are not that hard to spot (they get talked and written about a lot), but they can be strangely hard for large organisations to embrace."

Unfortunately, for large organisations riddled with bureaucracy, egos, paperwork and Day 2 thinking, this can verge on impossible. By spotting trends as they approach, staying lean and agile, and being open to change, you can keep up with your customers' ever-growing list of needs and desires and remain relevant and in ‘Day 1’.

“Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.” 

Experiment, learn, adapt, try, fail, grow, listen, talk, delight, nurture and be obsessed with your customer, and always remember the employee. To echo the sentiment of Bruce Temkin in his recent response to Jeff Bezos' letter, customer-centric organisations do not just happen, they are purposefully built. 

With our expertise in Customer Strategy, Experience Design and Digital implementation across Private, Government and Not-For-Profits, we can help you stay in ‘Day 1’. Start a conversation below if your goal is to increase customer advocacy and remain prepared to lead in the everchanging customer landscape.

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Raj Mendes
Founder & Managing Director
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