High Velocity Decision Making the Amazon Way

Posted on July 31 2018

High Velocity Decision Making the Amazon Way

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says many types of companies are capable of making high-quality decisions, but they tend to make them slowly. He says to keep the energy and dynamism flowing, you need to learn to make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. He notes speed matters in business, plus a high-velocity decision making environment is fun.

To aid your decision making process, he says never use a one-size-fits-all decision making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-doors. With those types of decisions, you can use a light-weight process. So what if you’re wrong? You don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through. Jeff says most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases you’re probably going to be slow. Besides, you need to get good at recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you become good at course correction, being wrong will be less costly than you think while being slow will be expensive for sure.

Jeff also recommends using the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time in the decision making process. 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? He says by the time you’re at this point in the process, no one can know the outcome for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

Finally, Jeff says you need to recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately. Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views. They are not aligned. No amount of discussion and no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism is exhaustion. Whoever has more stamina carries the decision. “You’ve worn me down” is an awful decision-making process. It’s slow and de-energizing.

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