10 Habits for Making Wicked Hard Decisions

How to make tough decisions about products, people, and business.

Gibson Biddle
8 min readOct 5, 2019


That’s me, at a “Netflix: Wicked Hard Decisions” no-slides, case study dinner In Montreal.

TThree years ago, I gave my first talk at a Greylock Partners event. When I asked the product leaders what they wanted to talk about, one answered, “I just want to know how Netflix made the wicked hard decisions.”

Figuring out how to make tough decisions is a topic that’s always worth revisiting as you develop as a leader. To help you make these decisions more quickly and confidently, I’ve compiled ten decision-making habits I’ve learned over the years about people, products, and business.

1. Ask questions, form an opinion, and engage in debate

Early in my career, the head of product at Electronic Arts asked me, “What would you do?” as he contemplated a tough decision. In response, I blubbered incoherently. Later, a friend at work coached me: “Relax — he wants to know what you think. If you don’t know the answer, ask questions until you can form an opinion, then engage in debate.”

At Netflix, I frequently saw this behavior modeled by the executive team. Netflix’s CEO would ask the heads of marketing and finance to debate the merit of a price decrease. Halfway through the argument, he’d stop them and ask them to flip positions. This drill forced each leader to listen to the other’s case, knowing they might be asked to switch sides again.

If you’re involved in a decision, do your best to ask questions, form an opinion, then spark debate. Diverse employees engaged in passionate debate form an essential foundation for effective decision-making.

2. Make a provisional decision

Ask yourself, “What does my gut say?” Frame your opinion based on your initial instinct, then ask what additional information you need to make a final decision. Last, outline a timeline to get the missing data to make the decision.

In early 2007, Blockbuster launched its Total Access program, allowing its DVD-by-mail customers to exchange DVDs instantly in Blockbuster stores. This program created overwhelming value for customers, and many Netflix members defected to Blockbuster.



Gibson Biddle

Former VP/CPO at Netflix/Chegg. Now speaker, teacher, & workshop host. Learn more here: www.gibsonbiddle.com or here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gibsonbiddle/