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Being a Day 1 firm, every day

Jeff Bezos and Amazon have been extremely successful in driving disruption in numerous markets. He has defined the key to that success as being a “Day 1” company — not resting on present or past success but treating each day as Day 1. This is exactly the concept we need as a partner mindset throughout our profession.

Let’s examine the four tenets of Bezos’s Day 1 theory for our firms.

  1. Customer frenzy: How many of us would describe the way we serve clients as a frenzy for WOW service? How many of us have shown the fanatical discipline of Disney to make every aspect of our client experience great? Frankly, we might find that our client service has migrated to be fairly bland and even deadline and process-driven rather than customer-driven. Have our deliverables taken too much of a technical slant? Has anyone listened to an audit committee presentation lately? It can be very telling from the customer perspective. Sure, we have exceptions and great client experiences, but as a profession and with most firms (certainly with ours) it has been too inconsistent. Client experiences appear to be driven by one individual rather than a well-trained and disciplined team. We seem to be a long way from being fanatics about the client experience. Here’s another quick measurement: How long has it been since our customer heard us ask, “How could we have served you even better?”
  2. Hard trends: How many of us have identified specific hard trends in our profession and are taking action to capture the opportunities? What about hard trends in our clients’ industries or businesses? Do our team members know what the hard trends are for our profession or for our clients? What is our future view based on hard trends? A Day 1 company has a future view based on hard trends that everyone understands.
  3. Results over process: Have our legacy systems added a layer of bureaucracy that takes our focus off of results? Has our chargeable-hour business model built processes and systems that are not effective? As we look at our recent innovation, has it been about efficiency or effectiveness? We may need a mindset shift from doing things right to making sure we are doing the right things.
  4. Big decisions quickly: What has our decision matrix evolved into? In conversations with middle management in a variety of firms from the Big 4 to national and regional firms, regardless of size, it seems to be harder and slower to make big decisions. How does rigid decision-making fit with a pace of change that we have never experienced before? Have we migrated so much to safe decisions that we are not taking enough risks as a profession? Are we consistently wanting a little more information before we decide?

These Day 1 attributes from Bezos provide us with a strong measuring stick to propel us to move faster and to fight the complacency that accompanies Day 2 and success. I also want to thank Matt Armanino for sharing these attributes with me. Matt is certainly a Day 1 pioneer for our profession.

Today, the great legacy of our profession will only be repeatable if we focus on being distinctive, anticipatory and fast. Critical mass is so important, yet it turns into a heavyweight if we do not use Day 1 attributes to drive results and be distinctive.

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