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Disagree and Commit

From Fast Company:

As CEO of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos makes a lot of decisions every day. Since this can be time-consuming, he’s developed a four-step process for navigating his business more quickly.

First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. “Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors,” he writes in his 2017 letter to shareholders. “Those decisions can use a light-weight process.”

Second, make the decision when you have about 70% of the information you wish you had. “If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow,” he writes.

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” “This phrase will save a lot of time,” he writes. “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?’ By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.”

And fourth, recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately. “Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views,” he writes. “They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion.”

Link to the rest at Fast Company

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6 Comments to “Disagree and Commit”

  1. “They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion.”

    Ah, so he’s been in those meetings where the ‘winner’ was decided by the person with the biggest bladder (or the one that wasn’t drinking the coffee … 😉 )

  2. The thing about escalating up the chain quickly is that is takes organizational commitment to that process from the top down, and that’s rare. Its far more common for corporate culture to want you to resolve those kinds of misalignments on your own, and not bother your boss with them. I think Bezos is definitely right, but it wouldn’t fly with about half the upper managers I’ve had.

    • I will have to say that the most successful managers I have known spotted fundamental misalignments and took steps to eliminate them. From what I have heard about Bezos, both his greatest strength and weakness is his heavy-handed style of eliminating misalignments.

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