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Jeff Bezos’s simple framework for making fast decisions

How to learn by making, not talking.
One of the most subtle, but damaging, traps many product teams fall into is treating every decision the same. The reality is not all decisions are created equal. In a , Jeff Bezos classified decisions into two types:
One-way doors. These decisions are “nearly irreversible and must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation. If you walk through and don’t like what you see on the other side, you can’t get back to where you were before.”
Two-way doors. These decisions are changeable and reversible. “If you’ve made a suboptimal Type 2 decision, you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through. Type 2 decisions can and should be made quickly by high judgment individuals or small groups.”
One-way doors. These decisions are irreversible.
Rule: Proceed cautiously.
Two-way doors. These decisions are changeable and reversible.
Rule: Experiment quickly.
Way too often, we get stuck debating decisions that are changeable and reversible. This leads to slower progress, unnecessary risk aversion, and less innovation.

Solution: Agree on the decision type first.

The best way I’ve found to avoid this trap is to first agree on the decision type, before diving into the details of the actual decision. Instead of asking the heavy question “Is this the right decision”, you ask “Is this decision reversible”?
This exercise takes a bit more work upfront, but unlocks tremendous agility down the line. Labeling a decision as a two-way door gives you permission to try, fail, and .

A template to identify the decision type.

To help you gain consensus on the decision type first, I’ve created a template you can copy and use with your own team.
Here’s how the template works:
The decision maker creates a short writeup describing the decision and lists the shareholders in the table below.
The decision maker shares the doc with the stakeholders.
Each stakeholder indicates whether they think the decision is a one-way or two-way door, including their rationale.
Discuss as a team until you gain consensus on the type of decision.

Decision: Should we try ____?

Short description of the decision.
What type of decision is this?
Lola Tseudonym
Two-way door
If this flopped, we could easily retire it and try something else.
Polly Rose
One-way door
This may have security risks we’re not accounting for.
Joel Davis
Two-way door
I don’t see any irreversible risks here. Go for it!
There are no rows in this table

Next steps

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Copy this template, then clear the sample data to use it with your team
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