Optimising financial processes

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Decisions – Risk, Opportunity and the 70% Rule

OK, so he isn’t the most popular guy in town . . .

But he must be doing something right. He has built a global business that delivers value to millions, and he changed the face of e-commerce.

But, as you might expect, the success of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, isn’t all serendipity. He has some disciplines that I suspect we can all learn from.

I am sure you have heard the folklore of his “2 pizza meeting rule”.

You haven’t?

In the early days of Amazon, Bezos instituted a rule that every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas – to make meetings more effective by limiting the number of people participating.

He reputedly has 14 leadership principles, worth some thought;

  1. Customer Obsession – start with the customer and work backwards.
  2. Ownership – think like owners, don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results.
  3. Invent and Simplify – expect and require innovation and invention from your teams and always find ways to simplify.
  4. Be Right, A Lot. – develop strong judgement and good instincts.
  5. Learn and Be Curious – never be done learning and always seek to improve
  6. Hire and Develop the Best – raise the bar with every hire and promotion.
  7. Insist on the Highest Standards – drive teams to deliver high quality products, services, and processes.
  8. Think Big – thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  9. Bias for Action – speed matters in business. Value calculated risk taking.
  10. Frugality – accomplish more with less. 
  11. Earn Trust – listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully.
  12. Dive Deep – operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, validate frequently, and be sceptical when metrics and anecdote differ.
  13. Have Backbone – disagree and commit. Have conviction and be tenacious.
  14. Deliver Results . . .

But whilst I can’t argue with any of the above, his risk management and decision making (two sides of the same coin!) lesson specifically resonates with me.

There are times when companies move too swiftly into a decision that hurts them. There are also occasions when they’re too slow and they fail.

Bezos suggests that while it’s always nice to have access to all of the information someone wants, in the vast majority of cases, waiting until you know everything you should know, is a problem in itself.

Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70 percent of the information you wish you had,” Bezos wrote in the letter. “If you wait for 90 percent, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.”

That’s a framework that every business leader should adopt.

Because it drives execution, and execution is half the battle. 

Agility, which is in itself the speed of response, decision making and execution, is also the key to effective risk management.

Making sound decisions is critical to leading any area of business, but so is knowing how to make a decision.

You can read more on the Bezos approach and this nugget of wisdom here .. 

Thanks for reading . . .