For e-commerce behemoth Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), it is always Day 1. In the company's annual letter, its CEO Jeff Bezos offered broad-ranging advice on how Amazon should always strive to maintain a "Day 1" culture. "Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1," he wrote in the letter.
Bezos' vision of company ethos is indicative of Silicon Valley startup culture, which prizes constant improvement and a "move fast and break things" mentality. In his letter, Bezos outlined four important pieces of advice to avoid the horrors of Day 2. (See also: 10 Facts You Did Not Know About Amazon.)
First, he asked his employees to remain obsessed with customer satisfaction. According to him, customers are always "beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied." This works out to Amazon's advantage because it enables the company to grow its business by inventing new products and services to satisfy its client base. To be sure, this is not the first time that Bezos has asked Amazon to remain focused on customers. Amazon's guiding mantra was also present in his first annual shareholder letter back in 1997. He is also reported to keep an empty chair that symbolizes an Amazon customer at company meetings. (See also: Amazon Never Makes Money but No One Cares.)
Second, he warned of the dangers of delegation and over-reliance on processes and proxies to get things done. "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," he wrote. He was also critical of market research and surveys standing in as proxies for customer needs, as opposed to Amazon spending time on "deeply understanding" its customers and their problems. In that respect, Bezos' viewpoint is similar to that of Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) late founder Steve Jobs, who relied on market research for incremental improvements to products but not to conceptualize them. (See also: Apple Is Most Innovative Company: Pricwaterhouse Cooper.)
Third, Bezos wrote about the importance of staying in line with trends to remain relevant. Machine learning and artificial intelligence, which have become important catchwords for technology companies, have been present in Amazon products for quite some time now. For example, the company's recommendation engine personalizes customer preferences after crunching massive amounts of data through machine learning. Similarly, Alexa, the company's intelligent voice assistant, is an example of artificial intelligence being deployed in everyday life. Bezos also teased out the prospect of exciting future developments for Amazon's machine learning framework for language processing, image analysis and speech generation. (See also: Is Amazon Too Diversified?)
Finally, he emphasized speedy decision making. Bezos recommends making decisions with 70 percent of available information, instead of 90 percent. "If you're good at course-correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure," he wrote. An important tactic to ensure speediness in teamwork is usage of the phrase "disagree and commit." As an example, Bezos recently wrote that phrase in an email while agreeing to a decision made by the Amazon Studios team regarding a new show. (See also: How Corporate Culture Affects Your Bottom Line.)