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How to achieve High Velocity Decision Making

Making good decisions is a core skill for any product manager. Whether you are deciding which problems to solve, prioritizing features in the backlog, or hiring the best colleagues, the quality of your decisions goes a long way to defining how effective you will be.  

It’s not enough just to make good decisions though - you have to make good decisions quickly. When you make high quality decisions at a high velocity, the result is a more responsive, nimble organization that spends more time executing on high value activities, and less time debating low value issues. Organizations which have mastered the art of high velocity decision making are able to maximize their organizational effectiveness overall, giving them a competitive advantage.

"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week."

- General George Patton

High Velocity Decision Making: Using types of decisions

The blueprint for this type of thinking is Amazon, who first highlighted the competitive and organizational advantage of embedding high velocity decision making as a company cultural advantage. Jeff Bezos famously defined two types of decisions in his 2016 letter to shareholders:

Type 1 Decisions - “One-Way Doors”

  • Almost impossible to reverse. You can’t go back to way things were
  • Rare
  • Must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation
  • Aim to get right, make it work
  • E.g. Sunsetting product, brand redesign, pricing changes

Type 2 Decisions - “Two-Way Doors”

  • Easily reversible. You don’t have to live with consequences for long
  • Common
  • Should be made quickly by small groups or individuals with good judgment
  • Aim to get right, but act fast and course correct over time
  • E.g. most product launches, copy changes, changing cadence or format of a meeting

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