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The Jeff Bezos Reversible vs. Irreversible Decisions Framework is a powerful mental model for unlocking growth in your career, business, relationships, or life.
There are some subtle traps that even high-performing large organizations can fall into as a matter of course, and we’ll have to learn as an institution how to guard against them. One common pitfall for large organizations – one that hurts speed and inventiveness – is “one-size-fits-all” decision making.
Some decisions are consequential and irreversible or nearly irreversible – one-way doors – and these decisions 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.
Most decisions are changeable, reversible – they’re two-way doors. If you’ve made a suboptimal but reversible decision, you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through.
Irreversible and reversible decisions exist on a continuum—they're not binary.
You need to plot your decision against each spectrum to determine the importance of the decision.
Decisions can be broken down in three dimensions:
1 Resource investment from a decision
2 The overall impact of a positive outcome
3 The impacts of a negative outcome
The process involves plotting a point along each spectrum to determine overall importance.
Step 1: Determine whether the decision is reversible
Step 2: If it's reversible, have confidence in making the decision quickly
Step 3: For irreversible decisions, slow down and gather more information before deciding
Reversible decisions aren't an excuse to act recklessly.
They're a recognition that the ability to make decisions quickly is a competitive and life advantage.
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