Making decisions is the core job of business leaders and senior executives. The stakes are always high, but it is more so for larger companies. In “Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos”, Bezos opens up about his decision-making process at Amazon. Here are a few insights about high-impact decision-making, drawing from the practices followed by Bezos.
Don’t compromise on 8 hours of sleep
Bezos is an “early to bed, early to rise” kind of person and doesn’t like to curtail his sleep hours, unless he is traveling. Getting 8 hours of sleep, restores his energy and helps him to focus better and lifts his spirits in general. Bezos argues that while cutting down on sleep will increase his working hours, at this point he doesn’t need that time, because Amazon is not a startup. He expounds that startups need to make more decisions which are more in number but less impactful. But for an established business, the equation is different.
Make fewer but superior quality decisions
As a top leader in one of the world’s most successful organizations, Bezos’ job is to make a limited number of immensely significant decisions. Thus, he schedules his first meeting at 10 am and reserves the slot for the most important discussions only. Because these decisions would be extremely crucial for the company, Bezos makes sure he is in his best mood when making the final move.
Think ahead – like 2-3 years into the future
Bezos and his team of senior executives never work on the current quarter. Their area of focus is usually a timeframe which is 2-3 years into the future. When you are working 2-3 years into the future, time is by your side and the number of decisions that you need to make a day are few, for Bezos, it is about three excellent decisions a day. Bezos sites Warren Buffet – who says he just needs to make three good decisions every year, and Bezos really believes that and feels all top leaders should work like this.
Classify decisions into 2 types
According to Bezos, there are two types of decisions – Type 1: One-way doors, these decisions cannot be rolled back and are extremely consequential and Type 2: Two-way doors, these decisions can be reversed or corrected along the way. Bezos advices executives to tread carefully while making the Type 1 decisions, give them more time, analysis and thought. While making such decisions, Bezos consults a larger team “because that is where slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
The Type 2 decisions, on the other hand, are numerous and need to be fast. Since these decisions can be backtracked in case, they have an unintended effect, Bezos prioritizes speed and advices that such decisions be taken with smaller teams or a “high-judgement individual”.
Propagate the “principle of disagreeing and committing”
Often businesses are divided while making important decisions. There are two groups who disagree with each other and each group feels their approach is best. Bezos, says that if the two groups team up against each other and at the end of the day one team gives in just because the other group is more adamant, it is demoralizing for everybody.
A better approach, according to Bezos is to escalate the matter to more senior leaders. This escalation must be made fast and both the teams’ arguments must be heard by the topmost seniors. And at the discussion, the seniors should ask one of the teams to “disagree and commit”.