Are you a Day One or a Day Two Company?
What does it mean?
As founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos allegedly asks the same question every day: “Are we a Day 1 or Day 2 company?”. This question has a singular goal: ensure Amazon keeps its early stage, entrepreneurial mindset (or Day 1 mindset), as opposed to moving into the stasis of Day 2.
A Day 1 mindset dictates that every day should be focused on innovation and experimentation, using:
- True customer obsession to delight customers
- A skeptical view of proxies (e.g. making the process right as proxy for good outcome, customer surveys as proxy for deep customer understanding)
- The eager adoption of external trends
- High-velocity decision making, through 'light-weight process'.
To the opposite of Day 1, we found Day 2 companies being stuck in the status quo, which leads to irrelevance and death. They typically show patterns such as fighting external trends and losing sight of customer needs. This is exactly what Bezos wants to avoid, if he wants his company to remain successful.
Why do we believe it’s important?
With their risk-averse nature and Day 2 mindset, companies often struggle to innovate as they focus on their own industry (and existing customers and competitors) and tend to be biased towards the solution with the “we already know”. They also get stuck in analysis and decision making, as they seek certainty instead of action. We described these as “Best Practices”, which often fail to differentiate.
By creating a “bubble of innovation” with a Day 1 mindset, we can help companies succeed at digital transformation and differentiate through innovation. In this “bubble”, we bring the right capabilities for the challenge and apply Lean Startup principles with “Build, Measure and Learn” cycles of experimentations. This helps avoid the stasis of the Innovator’s Dilemma - where companies fail to innovate as they rely solely on their current business and capabilities.
How do we put it into practice?
We start by identifying an innovative way forward, adopting a “Design before Technology” approach to enable user-centricity and looking at adjacent patterns for inspiration. By doing just enough analysis, we also avoid the proxy trap. Rapid validation and iterative cycles follow to prove the value and enable quick decision making, before scaling out.
We helped a major airline enhance their operational capabilities to manage disruptions at one of the world's busiest airports. The solution had to be delivered in thirteen weeks for the coming winter. The solution previously considered was going to take 18 months and was not bringing internal consensus. Our answer was to create a bubble of innovation, enabling them to operate as a Day 1 ‘tech startup’. We combined behavioral psychology addressing the human factors with new technology capabilities, while respecting existing operational constraints. The solution had a design aligned with emerging tech patterns being delivered by FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) companies, but was truly radical for the airline.