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," writes Bezos.
The famous founder follows with some exceptional lessons for all who are pursuing organizational excellence.
But one piece of advice truly stuck out above the rest.
Three Powerful Words
Bezos strongly recommends using the following phrase to do good work:
"Disagree and commit."
Here's an excerpt from the letter:
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.
I disagree and commit all the time. We recently greenlit a particular Amazon Studios original. I told the team my view: debatable whether it would be interesting enough, complicated to produce, the business terms aren't that good, and we have lots of other opportunities. They had a completely different opinion and wanted to go ahead. I wrote back right away with "I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we've ever made." Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.
As Bezos explains, to disagree and commit doesn't mean 'thinking your team is wrong and missing the point,' which will prevent you from offering true support.
Rather, Bezos writes, "it's a genuine disagreement of opinion, a candid expression of my view, a chance for the team to weigh my view, and a quick, sincere commitment to go their way." [Italics mine.]
How many of us have seen great ideas killed by attrition?
A lot of business leaders claim to support bias for action, but they don't practice what they preach. Either they refuse to green-light any project that strays outside their comfort zone, or they indirectly sabotage the project by not providing the resources or support it would need to succeed.
Yes, effective leaders know when to trust their gut. But they also know when to trust their teams' gut. They're willing to take calculated risks. In doing so, they help their people gain confidence, and give them room to experiment and grow.
Of course, this strategy also applies outside the workplace.
Has your spouse been trying for ages to get you to take a dance class, but you're afraid because you have two left feet? Or does your family want to try a new vacation spot, but you've resisted because you're afraid you won't enjoy it?
It may be time to disagree and commit.
Because when you go all in with people you trust, good things tend to happen.