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How to Avoid Day 2, Becoming Irrelevant

Then I read a post about Jeff Bezos’ Day 1 story he wrote in his 1997 letter to stakeholders. Here is the excerpt that caught my attention:

“Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?”

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

To be sure, this kind of decline would happen in extreme slow motion. An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.

Stasis, inertia, complacency followed by irrelevance and an excruciating, painful decline in extreme slow motion? In our research last year across the CPA Profession, CPAs said that their organizations were not moving fast enough in the face of the accelerating hard trends and pace of change. In fact their average scores were 2.3 out of 5, 5 being fast enough. Given the pace of change today, this rate of change is the equivalent of standing still and dangerously close to that slow painful decline Bezos describes as Day 2.

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” – Gen. Eric Shinseki

Bezos offers his advice on how they will stay in Day 1 which “requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.”

He then offers four strategies to stay in Day 1:

  1. Customer Obsession;
  2. Resist proxies;
  3. Embrace external trends;
  4. High-velocity decision-making.

The key to staying in Day 1 is bold leadership at all levels in our organizations and our Profession.

“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”—Jeff Bezos

Leaders who are willing to anticipate the trends before us and lead innovation and ultimately the transformation of our organizations and our Profession.

What day are you in?

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