Jeff Bezos's annual letter to shareholders is getting a lot of buzz because it underscores Amazon's fanatical devotion to continuous, intentional improvement, which he shorthands as being a "Day 1" company.
Why does he call it "Day 1?"
"Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death," he says. "And that is why it is always Day 1."
What's interesting about this philosophy is the role of process — for most companies, an efficient, optimized process is an asset that should always be protected; at Amazon, an efficient, optimized process is almost a liability.
"Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right."
In other words, you get caught up doing what you're doing because that's the way you do it.
Benchmarking helps you escape this trap by forcing you to continuously put outcomes first:
- Higher, lower
- Faster, slower
- Stronger, weaker
- Better, worse
This forces you to continuoulsy improve, adapt and grow over time, so you never end up "Day 2."