Prayaag Venkat     About     Archive

Thoughts on Jeff Bezos's thoughts

I recently read some writings of Jeff Bezos; here are some thoughts:

  • He classifies failures into two categories: “operational” and “experimental”. Operational failures are failures to do things we already know how to do; these are bad. Experimental failures are failures that result from trying to do things we don’t yet know how to do; these are good because they give feedback.
  • He classifies decisions into two categories: “one-way doors” and “two-way doors”. We should slow down and be cautious in deciding whether to enter one-way doors, as these are irrevocable decisions. In contrast, we should move fast when it comes to two-way doors, as we can always return after entering.
  • He classifies people as “missionaries” or “mercenaries”. I think I have become a mercenary. In team settings, it is important to think about the motivations of others. Mercenaries can’t be expected to stick around, but missionaries won’t stick around either unless decisions are made quickly.
  • Talking with others is really important. We can’t expect others to dig for us, but they can tell us where to dig. The cost of digging where there is no gold is high.
  • Question: How do we make decisions when we don’t have much historical data?