Sustaining a Day 1 Culture

Sustaining a Day 1 Culture

A conversation with Beth Galetti, Senior VP of HR, and Stephen Brozovich, Principal Evangelist with AWS HR.

Beth Galetti (AWS Senior VP of HR) and Stephen Brozovich (AWS Principal Evangelist HR) discuss the significant growth AWS has experienced, which has created challenges and opportunities in maintaining an innovative culture. In this spotlight, they will uncover: What a “Day 1 Culture” means at Amazon, signs of a Day 2 Culture, and how Amazon ensures a “Day 1 Culture” is maintained for their customers and company.

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If you create a culture that pushes itself to look for new ways to delight customers every single day, in all parts of your business, it will drive you to invent on their behalf.”

Success begins at Day 1

Success begins at Day 1

Day 1 is a term we use to describe our culture at Amazon. A culture obsessed with our customers! We promote agility, innovation and produce the right mechanisms and operating models to enable high-quality and high-velocity decision-making for our customers. We disrupt. We are experimental. We dream up big new ideas that may change the way the world works and give us new opportunities to deliver for our customers. Day 1 is day only for us at Amazon.

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We're envisioning a world one to two years in the future where the customers are using the product now.”

Why is a Day 1 culture important?

Why is a Day 1 culture important?

There are certainly many ways companies can approach innovation and scaling. You can focus on your competitors, invent new technologies, innovate around business models or other approaches. At Amazon, we’ve chosen to center our approach on our customers. We do this because, as Jeff Bezos said in his 2017 shareholders letter to customers, “Customers are always divinely discontent, and will always want something better. Yesterday’s wow quickly becomes today’s ordinary. If you create a culture that pushes itself to look for new ways to delight customers every single day, in all parts of your business, it will drive you to invent on their behalf.

Day 1 companies have to find a way to maintain a long-term perspective while responding to the short-term needs of the customer. Center your focus on delivering value to the customer over the long term. Internal metrics like margins, productivity, and revenue targets are fine, but keep in mind, short-term thinking has a direct impact on the ability to invent.

The Cultural DNA of Amazon

  1. Be customer obsessed.
  2. Build and maintain the right mechanisms to retain a Day 1 culture.
  3. Make high-quality and high-velocity decisions every time.
  4. Be experimental and disruptive. Embrace trends.
  5. Be willing to take risks and fail, then learn from those failures.
  6. Envision a world one to two years in the future where customers are using your product now.
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Day 2 is stasis followed by irrelevance, followed by excruciating painful decline, followed by death."

—Jeff Bezos

A Day 2 culture doesn’t happen overnight

A Day 2 culture doesn’t happen overnight

As a company grows, there is often a need to adjust to effectively manage an organization at scale. This gets even harder when a company goes public. As you adjust, the dreadful Day 2 Culture elements may creep in slowly and manifest with increased short-term thinking. Too often, the activity shifts focus from the hard measure things like long-term customer delight to short-term targets that keep shareholders happy. There may be a lot of activity, everybody is really busy, but the movement is centered around short-term objectives, which suffocates innovation and long-term thinking.

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We work to invent on the customer's behalf to identify solutions that will create a surprise and delightful customer experience. To address their issues they know now, or maybe haven’t thought of yet.”

How to keep a Day 2 culture at bay

How to keep a Day 2 culture at bay

Envision a world one to two years in the future where customers are using your product now. In today’s world, a company must be hyper-vigilant, remain long-term customer-focused, and repel practices that prevent the ability to innovate rapidly.

To remain a Day 1 Culture, you need to find ways to take bigger and bolder bets. This naturally opens the door for bigger and more prominent failures. Every failure is an opportunity to create something better for customers. Create an environment where failure drives improvement, not punishment.

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If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle.”

—Jeff Bezos

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