Story / Illustration

Amazon is one of the most successful and innovative companies in recent history. Not only is it one of the most valuable companies ever, but it's also had a huge impact on society we know today. Online shopping, 2 day shipping, online memberships... Amazon has pioneered a lot of it. They didn't invent it, but they did pave the way.

And it was all started by one man, Jeff Bezos. Now one of the richest men in the world.

So how did Jeff decide to start Amazon?

"I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried."

Jeff used a peculiar decision-making framework. He simply asked himself, "In X years, will I regret not doing this?"

If yes, do it! If no, don't bother.

This is now known as the Regret Minimization Framework.


The idea behind the Regret Minimization Framework is pretty simple. Project yourself forward to the future — looking back, you want to minimize the number of regrets.

If you project yourself in the future and think about your potential regrets, things get a lot clearer. It also helps you to remove a few pieces of confusion in the present caused by alternative paths. It helps you make the right decision more easily.

Everything is about tradeoffs. Compromises. Do I do X or do I do Y — but you can't do both.

We all do this subconsciously to some level, but intentionally using it can improve your own decision-making process as well as to better understand your customers' decision-making process.


So how does this apply?

Making better decisions yourself

Don't be a fool. Regret minimization isn't an excuse for YOLO. In fact, it's the opposite.

You don’t want to use the Regret Minimization Framework as an excuse to do something stupid. Everyday small decisions (what to work on, how to spend your time, who to talk to, which meetings to take) and important big decisions (what to invest in, which strategy to employ, how to forecast, who to hire) are an integral part of either your success or downfall.