In this time of change, I’ve been thinking about the gap between a desire to change and uncertainty on where or how to change. The pandemic has been a change accelerant, but the path isn’t always clear.
Jeff Bezos has some relevant insights in how he describes Day 1 versus Day 2 thinking. He first codified this idea in the early days of Amazon in 1997 (and even named his Amazon Building “Day 1” as a reminder always to act like it is Day 1). In a 2016 shareholder letter, he expanded on Day 1 thinking in a way that I think is particularly timely today.
“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
In Day 1 thinking, Bezos gives some useful perspective on how to think about staying on top of changing customer needs.
“There are many ways to center 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.
“Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invest on their behalf…
“Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you’ll find on surveys. They live with the design.
“I’m not against beta testing or surveys. But you, the product or service owner, must understand the customer, have a vision, and love the offering. Then, beta testing and research can help you find your blind spots. A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.”
Now more than ever is a time for Day 1 thinking.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: