Jeff Bezos’ advice on decision-making will help you accelerate and reduce costs
Over the years, I have trained and coached hundreds of C-level leaders on their effectiveness. I’ve been surprised by how much time is wasted in boardrooms debating the details of certain decisions. This energy could have been spent on the strategic questions the business faces.
Here’s some decision-making advice that is consistently found helpful introduced by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon:
- Stop treating every decision as if it is irreversible.
- Start making reversible decisions quickly.
Image source: Productive Club
If a decision is reversible (like most are), don’t spend too long debating it. Decide quickly to learn if the decision is correct, then steer again when you have more data.
For example: Are you thinking about which market to enter? Which supplier to pick? Which leader to hire? Those are important but reversible decisions.
Instead of spending hours and hours debating slide decks (that others have spent hours and hours making for you), come up with the smallest possible experiment that will give you valuable insights. Then run that experiment, and look at the lessons learned.
If you’re sure the decision you’re about to make is irreversible, then consider these two additional questions:
- Is the time spent deciding worth it? If not: decide quickly and review.
- Is making the wrong decision manageable? If yes: decide quickly and review.
The invisible cost of doing it wrong
Treating reversible decisions as if they are irreversible is costly. Both in terms of time spent on them and the cost of delay. Both are not visible on the balance sheet.
Fast, adaptive organizations are aware of this cost and are conscious of what decision-making methodology to use for what purpose.