Amazon LPs: Bias for Action

Amazon’s Leadership Principles, or LPs help its employees hold themselves and each other accountable, through tangible and measurable qualities that guide and lead decision-making, with customers at the forefront.

This article will focus on the principle of bias for action.

What is bias for action?

Amazon’s official quote for this principle is:

Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.

To me, in a fast-paced environment such as a startup, decision paralysis is anathema. Delaying something to validate, perfect something, means you release something too late. Rather than being reckless, you are consciously taking a calculated risk without knowing all facts and data, but rooted in the fact this is not a one-way door but two-way door (reversible) decision.

The cost of not doing anything can be just as costly as making the wrong decision. Jeff Bezos said it best in a 2016 letter to shareholders when he said:

…most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

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