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