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Dark Bezos’ 70% Rule Will Help You Decide Faster

I dislike the dude, but his trick works


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Nabil Alouani

3 years ago | 3 min read

Despite having the same haircut, I’m no fan of Jeff Bezos. He mistreated his employees, escaped taxes, tried to buy an election, cheated on his wife, and a ton of other bad shit.

But the bastard is smart. His decision-making grew Amazon from an online bookstore to a wealthy (and somewhat scary) business empire.

And given that the most important skill in business is to make good decisions, I believe we ought to steal some of Dark Bezos’s tricks. The 70% rule is one of them.

What’s the rule?

You should make your decision as soon as you have 70% of the information you need to make that decision.

I know you have a lot of questions so let’s debunk them.

How is this rule relevant?

From this point onward, let’s call all the information you need to make a good decision “the needed information.”

Bezos explained that high-quality decisions require 90% of the needed information. The catch? Getting to 90% takes a lot of time, and speed is crucial in our fast-paced world. Whether at work or home, you can miss a ton of opportunities if you don’t decide fast.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had online coupons expire before you could decide how to best spend them. You also blew your one-hour-of-Netflix-before-bed several times because you got busy picking a show instead of watching one. Don’t worry though; even business elites suffer from the same decision disease.

Clubhouse’s founders hesitated when Twitter offered them a $4 billion buyout. Soon after, Twitter built Spaces — an embedded Clubhouse-like feature, and all of a sudden, Clubhouse is no longer as hot as it was.

Between the 1990s and 2000s, Nokia had been the leader in the mobile industry. Back then, the focus was on hardware, but when new challengers showed up, the main concern became user experience.

Nokia waited for another seven years to take user experience seriously, except it was too late. Apple had already dominated the market.

All of the previous examples scream the same takeaway: “Waiting too long to decide sucks.”

That’s why Bezos suggested the 70% rule. “Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had,” he said. “If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.”

Another reason the 70% rule is relevant

In business, there’s no such thing as a final decision. You can always change course, stop, or turn back.

“If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think,” Dark Bezos said. “Whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.” That’s what happened with Nokia and what I think is happening with Clubhouse.

So, dear reader, when it comes to decision-making, remember that being wrong is better than being slow.

Bonus for overthinkers

There’s a paradoxical feat that overthinkers are familiar with. The more information you have, the less decisive you become. It’s called Decision Paralysis, and the 70% rule can help you break out of it.

When you commit to deciding 70% of the needed information, you sign a mental contract with yourself, a contract that keeps you from falling into rumination mode.

It’s like moving your cookie box down to the basement. You make it harder for yourself to mess up your health.

Finally, how do you know when you have 70% of the needed information?

You don’t. You make an estimation.

Here are three ways that will help you estimate how much is 70% of the needed information.

  • Measure time instead of information. Do you have ten days to make a decision? On day seven, stop rethinking your choice and just roll with it. This trick works best with paperwork, travel plans, and creative work.
  • Use checklists to quantify information. Come up with a list of requirements that can help you make your decision. When you tick off 70% of the list, make that decision. This trick works best with purchases, job hunts, and partnerships.
  • Outsource the estimation. It’s cheating, but it works. Ask someone who’s slightly ahead of you. “How much information do you think I need to make this decision?” This trick works with almost any decision, but it’s difficult to find a reliable person that can help you.

And before you go, I’d like you to remember two things about decision-making in business. One, a bad decision is better than no decision, and two, there’s no such thing as a final decision.

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Nabil Alouani

Business | Psychology | Marketing — What's your favorite quote? Mine is "True masters are eternal students."


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