One-Way & Two-Way Doors

Amazon popularized the idea of one-way and two-way doors to encourage employee decision-making and appropriate risk-taking.

One-Way Doors aren’t easily reversible decisions—like choosing hardware for tech projects, settling on a building location, and getting married. One-Way Doors require careful thought and planning, and they’re the perfect use case for System II, turtle-like thinking. But the cost of One-Way Doors is high—as the decision is large, slow, and risky.

Two-Way Doors are reversible decisions, such as software changes, attending an event, or picking a movie to watch. You can walk through the door, see if you like it, and walk back through it if you don’t. Most decisions are two-way doors. You can move fast, unburdened by the need for approval or analysis paralysis.

When faced with a One-Way Door, see if you can transform it into a Two-Way Door. For instance, say you want to move across the country. Before buying a new home or starting a new lease, vacation there for a week. Stay in a hotel, rent a car, and imagine what it’s like to be a local—go to the grocery store, walk around the park, visit the library, etc.

Don’t view decisions as “one-size fits all.” Ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen? If the risk is low and the choice is reversible, step through that Two-Way Door.