“How do you fend off Day 2?”

I read this shareholders letter from Jeff Bezos for the first time as part of the book “Invent and Wander“. This letter is so good that I felt the need to read it a few times.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

Bezos mentions 4 essentials for fending off day 2:

  1. Customer obsession. Customer focus is the best way to save yourself from Day 2. “Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.
  2. A skeptical view of proxies. Bezos gives two examples of proxies. One is processes and another one is market research and customer surveys. On processes: “Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing.”. I saw this happening so many times.
  3. The eager adoption of external trends. Embrace big trends, don’t fight them.
  4. High-velocity decision making. Bezos emphasizes the importance of speed in business, and mentions three things that can go wrong:
    1. Using a one-size-fits all decision-making process. This relates to Bezos’ famous type 1/type 2 decision making framework. I wrote about it in On Making Fast Decisions.
    2. Waiting for 90% of the information to get a decision. Most decisions should be made with ~70% of the information. This can be hard to get used to but it will serve you well, especially if you need to make a lot of type 2 decisions. Definitely true for product managers.
    3. Not using enough the phrase “disagree and commit” approach.