It is no accident many of the Amazon Leadership Principles seemingly contradict each other: they were carefully selected and crafted to encourage leaders to be thoughtful about the gray area.
Bias for Action vs. Think Big represent favorite example of this tension.
Bias for Action – Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
Think Big – Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
On one hand, Bias for Action tells us to move quickly without perfect information; to take short-term risks. On the other hand, Think Big tells us to take a long-term view, cover all the bases, and consider audacious and unconventional ideas. In the moment, you as leaders will discover these are clearly at odds with each other. Great leaders practice testing this tension and build skills for navigating it. For example, get in the habit of always asking:
“Is this decision a two-way door we just need to move quickly on, or does this decision have unambiguous long-term impacts that should be carefully considered?”
What other examples of this intentional tension resonate for you? Comment below.
PS, If you love lexigraphy as I do, head down the rabbit hole of the difference between the words “intention” and “intension”.