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Amazon Day 1 Principles

In each Yearly Report, Jeff Bezos includes a version of his initial 1997 Letter for Shareholders. This letter from 1997, shows the basic rules of Amazon's possible success—concentrating hard on customers, creating value for long term rather than short-term business earnings, and taking lots of brave decisions. "This is Day 1 for the Internet," wrote Bezos, "and if we do our job well, for also."

Those principles—keeping a focus on long-term, caring a lot about customers and their requirements, and innovating boldly to meet these requirements—have stayed the same for more than twenty years, and are at the center of what Amazon calls a “Day 1” mindset. Day 1 is both a culture and a way of operating that places the customer in the center of all Amazon's actions.

We try hard to understand our customers and work backwards from their problems to quickly develop innovations that make a real difference in their lives. Day 1 is about always being curious, agile, and willing to experiment. It is about having the courage to fail because, if by learning from our mistakes, we can surprise and make our customers happy in the future.

Contrast this to a “Day 2” mindset: as a company becomes larger over time, it has to change its method to manage the organization effectively as it grows. The problem is that as this happens, decision making may slow down, and the company can become less flexible, moving more and more away from the customer as it turns its attention towards internal issues instead of external customer-focused innovation.

This does not happen all of a sudden; it can come in slowly, and show in small ways that on their own do not immediately worry us, or are even easy to see. If not checked, a Day 2 mindset can come into existence. When asked “What does Day 2 look like?” Bezos, in his 2016 Shareholder Letter, answered: “Day 2 is when everything stays the same. Followed by becoming irrelevant. Followed by an extremely painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” To avoid Day 2 culture, a company must always be alert, stay focused on its customers, and fight off practices that prevent its ability to innovate quickly.

While we do not think Amazon's method is the only or best one, many of our customers ask us to tell them about the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve grown, as well as some of the methods we use to make sure that it’s always Day 1 at Amazon.



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