Amazonian Decision Making Framework

Jul 2, 2021

Our decision making starts the moment we wake up. While the cognitive load in most daily decision is low, the same is not true for decisions we make in the workplace. Wouldn’t it be easier, if there were a heuristic for workplace decisions?

Let’s take a lesson out of the Amazon playbook:

"One common pitfall for large organizations – one that hurts speed and inventiveness – is 'one-size-fits-all' decision making."  — Jeff Bezos

Deep thought doesn’t help always. You go down a rabbit hole of evaluating options, without realizing you’re in the analysis-paralysis zone with very little upside irrespective of the choice you finally make. In these situations, you don’t fail due to the wrong choice, rather due to slow decision making. Let that inner voice remind you — “Act fast or fail!”

Next time you have a decision to make, ask yourself two questions:

  • Is this reversible?

  • What happens if I get it wrong?

Two-way door decisions

These decisions are reversible and likely have lower impact. The strategy here should be to pick an option and move on. If you get it wrong, pull back and revise.

One-way door decisions

Irreversible, these decisions will likely have high and long term impact on the organization. The recommended strategy is to go slow and evaluate potential options. Furthermore, involve all stakeholders, including senior leadership to lean on their experience and get their buy-in.

But does it always have to be that way? Not really. What if these weren’t one way door decisions at all? Here’s how:

  • If you have multiple options, you can run an A/B test

  • If there’s limited choices, you can roll out at a smaller scale (limited geographies or segments)

  • If consumers of your product are going to be involved, try an experimental communication strategy