At Stripe there is a culture of learning from the decisions the organisation makes.
However, internally at Stripe, decision making in organisations is also viewed as slightly overrated.
Patrick explains that organisations are not like investment entities or funds. With investing (generally speaking), it’s fundamentally very binary. There is a moment at which you either buy or don’t or sell or don’t.
Whereas in organizations, everything is more fluid and continuous; it’s much more about designing the feedback mechanisms…
According to Patrick, “..the right unit of analysis is that of the cell, and the question is, well, in an organisation, what are the cells and what are the organs and how do they interact? What are the feedback mechanisms between them?”
In decision making, Patrick places more importance on making sure that Stripe has the right foundational agreement such that the disagreements that then tend to arise are of the essentially more of the superficial sort and where agreement is actually less important.
“When I realise that I would make a decision differently to how someone else would make it, not even really discussing the decision itself but trying to dig into it, what is the difference in our models such that they want to make Decision A and I want to make Decision B?”
In order to align your employees to make better decisions, have them write answers to the following:
- What are you optimising your segment of the business for?
- What is your mission within the business?
- What are the long-term key metrics for your part of the organisation?
- Who are your customers (internally or externally)?
The idea is that once there is agreement on those longer-term things, then maybe a difference on any particular decision might just be “Well, we differ on what the most instrumentally effective way to achieve this outcome is, but we’re also both really unified on what the desired end state is.”
Disagreements over instrumental efficacy, is a much less problematic disagreement, because, if you’re right, then this will soon be learned, and if you’re wrong, reality will probably make that pretty clear in short order.