- Jeff Bezos said he always encouraged his teams to seek the truth when making tough decisions.
- The Amazon founder spoke on the Lex Fridman Podcast and said compromising is not truth seeking.
- Bezos was known for encouraging staff to work fast and make effective decisions.
Jeff Bezos offered some unconventional wisdom about teamwork and said it’s actually a bad idea when companies encourage employees to compromise with each other.
Speaking on the Lex Fridman Podcast on Thursday, the Amazon founder said that “dispute resolution” is a really interesting thing to observe on teams because two “well-intentioned” people may just have very different opinions about what’s the right decision.
“We have in our society and inside companies, a bunch of mechanisms we use to resolve these kinds of disputes,” Bezos said in the podcast. “A lot of them are, I think, really bad. An example of a really bad way of coming to an agreement is compromise.”
Bezos offered an example of a compromise: “We’re in a room here and I could say ‘Lex how tall do you think this ceiling is?’ And you could say ‘I don’t know Jeff maybe 12 feet tall.’ And I would say ‘I think it’s 11 feet tall,’ and we would say ‘Let’s just call it 11 and a half feet.’ That’s compromise.
“Instead of the right thing to do which is to get a tape measure and figure out some way of actually measuring it.”
He added: “The advantage of compromise as a resolution mechanism is that it’s low energy, but it doesn’t lead to truth, and so in things like the height of the ceiling where truth is a noble thing, you shouldn’t allow compromise to be used when you can know the truth.”
Bezos explained that he tells people on his teams: “You want to try to get to as close to truth as possible … and compromise is not truth seeking.”
Bezos stepped down as Amazon’s CEO in 2021 and was succeeded by Andy Jassy. He wanted to turn his attention to his other ventures such as his aerospace company Blue Origins, as well as his philanthropic work.
The billionaire was well-known for prioritizing speed, agility, and effective decision making at Amazon, and his former vice president and chief of staff Colin Bryar previously wrote in a Business Insider piece that he never held 1:1 meetings with direct reports.
Instead, Bezos encouraged his direct reports to get together for four hours each week and make decisions so that they could learn to work together cohesively and efficiently, especially when a crisis arose.
Bezos philosophy at Amazon was that it’s always day one, which meant functioning with the speed, risk-acceptance mentality, and entrepreneurial mindset of a startup.