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A Day-1-Always Attitude!

No doubt about it, the best way to thrive in today’s world is by making sure we keep a day-1-always attitude personally and at work. This is Jeff Bezos mantra and one of the main reasons behind his spectacular success.

The other reasons are stated below, as well as in the traits of a beautiful mind.

When asked ‘What does Day 2 look like?’ Bezos replied “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

This brings us to the obvious question: how to maintain a day-1-always attitude?

The challenge of maintaining the vitality and freshness of Day 1, especially within large organizations is, unequivocally, the greatest challenge a company will ever face.

Keep in mind that there are three crucial elements at play here: 1) The organization (and its products/services); 2) The customers, and 3) The environment within which everything takes place.

There is relatively little you can do about the environment (e.g., build news stores, increase online presence, etc.) and your customers (e.g., advertisements, promotions, etc.).

However, there is plenty you can do about your organization and fend off day 2 mentality!

The best thing you can do about your organization, to begin with, is to make it Tropophilic.

Contrary to common belief, the simplest answer is usually the best. And its profound implications will probably blow your mind away.

The hardest thing you may ever encounter, as CEO or general manager of any company, is creating an environment conducive towards your company’s Vision on a daily basis. In other words, transforming employee behavior from goal-seeking to ideal-seeking and ensuring that every employee not only feels and thinks as an owner, but actually acts as one, and they do it as if it were day 1 all the time!

To pay your workers with company stock is certainly an easy way to ensure they really own a piece of it. But, obviously, this is not enough.

The hardest part is creating an organizational structure based on Open Systems Design Principles, that is, a non-dominant and enhancive hierarchy, as opposed to the typical restrictive dominant hierarchy of bureaucracies (most people have a problem with hierarchies because they do not understand that hierarchy equals structure, without it, you have laisser faire, i.e., a mess).

By creating an organizational structure that is open and transparent, a culture of trust and integrity will emerge when the leadership is based on moral authority, i.e., leaders walk their talk.

The power of an organizational structure that is based on transparency, trust, and integrity cannot be overemphasized, e.g., Blockchain comes to mind here.

A Customer Focus Organizational Culture

“The big advantages to a customer-centric approach is that 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 invent on their behalf.” Jeff Bezos.

Watch Out For Proxies

“As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage by proxies. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s dangerous, subtle, and very Day 2. A common example is process as proxy. Good processes serve you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. 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. Gulp. It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, ‘Well, we followed the process.’ A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It’s always worth asking, do we own the process, or does the process own us? A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.” Ibid.

Embrace External Trends

“The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind. These big trends are not that hard to spot (they get talked and written about a lot), but they can be strangely hard for large organizations to embrace. We’re in the middle of an obvious one right now: machine learning and artificial intelligence.” Ibid.

High-Quality & High-Velocity Decision Making

“Day 2 companies make high-quality decisions, but they make them slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. Easy for start-ups and very challenging for large organizations. First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a light-weight process. Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Third, use the phrase ‘disagree and commit.’ This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, ‘Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit? By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes. This isn’t one way. If you’re the boss, you should do this too. Fourth, recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately. Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views. They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion. Whoever has more stamina carries the decision. Have you settled only for decision quality, or are you mindful of decision velocity too? Are the world’s trends tailwinds for you? Are you falling prey to proxies, or do they serve you? Are you delighting customers?” Ibid.

If you manage to accomplish all this, employees not only know they are empowered but also feel truly committed and responsible for their work, i.e., there is no more passing the buck or finger-pointing.

Only with a Tropophilic organizational structure you can ensure this type of environment with the four essentials for Day-1-Always attitude.

Only a tropophilic organization allows for the full emergence of a culture that “Experiments patiently, accepts failures, plants seeds, protects saplings, and doubles down when you see customer delight.” Jeff Bezos.

Here It Is To The Health Of Your Day-1-Always-Attitude Organization!

Yes, we can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and still keep the spirit and heart of a small one. Further, we should exercise day-1 attitude at the personal and family level, to begin with, for the nucleus of society is the family!

And now, thanks to the power of Blockchain the whole process of creating an organizational environment conducive to a Day-1-Always attitude is sounder than ever!

JC Wandemberg Ph.D.


Sustainable Systems International

About the author: Dr. Wandemberg is the Dean of Woxsen School of Arts & Design and an international consultant, professor, and analyst of economic, environmental, social, managerial, marketing, and political issues. For the past 25 + years Dr. Wandemberg has collaborated with corporations, communities, and organizations to integrate sustainability through self-transformation processes and Open Systems Design Principles, thus, catalyzing a Culture of Trust, Transparency, and Integrity.

Note: The comments presented here are the full responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Sustainable Systems International or Woxsen School of Arts & Design.