How we make decisions

PortSwigger decision making

Operating with high trust and autonomy means that as many decisions as possible are pushed out to the coal face.

Most decisions involve elements of "why?", "what?", and "how?". In general, "why?" questions will tend to be more centralized, while "how?" questions will be more distributed, with the "what?" questions falling in between. This approach applies at the company level for the most important strategic decisions, and cascades through different teams as big decisions are broken down into smaller decisions.

Teams and individuals feel their way on this, and over time get a sense of when more input into a decision is warranted. If in doubt, people consult their team leader or tribal elder to get rapid feedback on whether they need to be involved.

All non-trivial decisions are made collaboratively, since we work together on everything anyway. We prefer decisions to be based on reasoned argument and evidence, not opinion. If in doubt, we bring more voices into the conversation.

We default to open, and this principle is essential to good decision-making. Information that is needed to make decisions is shared with everyone. The outcomes of decisions are quickly shared with everyone.

We make decisions as quickly as possible at the time when they need to be made. Many decisions can be made immediately following a brief conversation. Some decisions involve more protracted reflection, if they aren't urgent or we need more time to consider all the issues.

When we make the wrong decision, we fail fast and learn the lessons. We think changing our mind is good. Ploughing on with a mistake is bad.