Adopting Amazon's 'Day 1 mentality'

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


'Day 1' mentality: 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.


'Day 2' mentality: external influences are feared, and customer needs are replaced by business needs, product features or what competitors may be doing.


Stay in Day 1 by experimenting, learning, adapting, trying, failing, growing, listening, talking, delighting, nurturing and being obsessed with your customer AND your employees.

What made us think

Our point of view

Why it matters

How it applies in the real world

In a 2016 letter to shareholders Amazon Chief Jeff Bezos stated how he has, and will always, have a 'Day 1' mentality. 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.

We firmly believe that a focus on customer and employee experience is essential to business success and longevity, enabled by digital transformation. 

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, eg. something with the 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.

"Market research and survey data can deceive you"

Looking at numbers is necessary in 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 take a look beyond the numbers by conducting empathetic research to truly understand your customers and your employees. Asking, listening, watching and testing can unearth a raft of insights, behaviours and nuances which bring levels of understanding that can never be achieved through focusing on numbers alone. This is key to succeeding in customer and employee experience. 

"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-focussed is crucial - it’s absolutely necessary to have the mentality of customer outcomes over product features. 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'.

"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 greater. 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.

"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 at any point in history and our customers are "in the future" so our view should be too. In order to survive in this era organisations need to be able to adapt and innovate by customer and employee focussed digital transformation. 

"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 our 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 never forget 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. 

Want to know more?
Speak with your
subject matter expert:
Raj Mendes

CEC Team

January 2021

People & Culture Change

Making organisations fit for the future

Relevant capabilities

Business Model Design
Culture Change Design
Customer Personas
Customer Strategy
Customer Value Proposition (CVP) Design
Customer Value Proposition Testing
Customer-led Innovation
New Ways of Working
User Experience Design (UX)

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