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Jeff Bezos explains the difference between one-way door decisions and two-way door decisions

In the simplest terms, a “two-way door decision” is one that’s easy to reverse, and a “one-way door decision” is one that’s impossible or very costly to reverse.

As Jeff explains:

“[One-way door decisions] have to be made very deliberately and very carefully. If you can think of yet another way to analyze the decision, you should slow down and do that.”

He uses choosing which propellants to use in a rocket engine at Blue Origin as an example of a one-way door decision. However, most decisions are not consequential, hard-to-reverse decisions like this. And if you treat every decision—even the easily reversible ones—like one-way door decisions, you’re going to unnecessarily slow down your company.

“What can happen is that you have a one-size fits-all decision-making process where you end up using the heavyweight process on all decisions, including the lightweight, two-way door decisions. Two-way door decisions should mostly be made by single individuals or by very small teams deep in the organization. And one-way door decisions are the ones that should be elevated up to the senior-most executives who should slow them down and make sure that the right thing is being done.”