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How We Make Choices at Coinbase

By Emilie Choi, President and Chief Working Officer

TLDR: We use Drawback/ Proposed Options and RAPIDs as our fundamental instruments to interrupt via powerful choices and land on good resolutions.

One of many high three questions I get from candidates is: “how do you make choices at Coinbase?” What they’re getting at is, how can we break via politics and forms to get issues executed rapidly? We use two instruments at Coinbase that assist minimize via the noise and handle points that we’re grappling with:

  1. Drawback/Proposed Options are nice for tackling points that come up within the regular course of work.
  2. RAPIDs are nice instruments for breaking via powerful choices and getting good choices really made. Right here’s how we use every of those instruments.

Coinbase is a written tradition, which signifies that we goal to place our considering, processes and choice making down on paper. This helps us make clear our considering and improve understanding with one another. We use Google Docs to collaborate, which permits us to remark and ask questions transparently. These choice making frameworks are an vital aspect of this written tradition.

Drawback/Proposed Answer (P/PS): The last word technique to minimize via noise.

(Credit score to Matt Mochary, who got here up with the P/PS and discusses it in his e-book).

<P/PS template right here>

The P/PS is a superb instrument to handle unresolved points which are bothering you. It may very well be that you simply suppose the efficiency administration course of wants enchancment, or that we’d like much less conferences, or that we have to revisit our org construction, or something that rises to a sure stage of significance for you. All of us have these instincts, and but typically, we don’t know the right way to deliver them up in the correct means. We wish to encourage productive drawback fixing and the P/PS can assist with this.

The keys to an efficient Drawback/Proposed Answer

  • Brief and straightforward: It must be light-weight and take <15 minutes to put in writing. It ought to common one web page solely.
  • Targeted on options: In line with our worth of constructive vitality, you don’t simply shine gentle on the issue, however you additionally suggest an answer.

Right here’s a really brief, light-weight instance:

Drawback: We’ve too many conferences. It’s chopping into staff’ skill to get actual work executed.

Proposed Answer/s:

  • Kill all recurring conferences
  • Have a no assembly day
  • Create friction so as to add a gathering (require that any new assembly invite contains an agenda and objectives of the assembly)

You then ship the P/PS to anybody related to begin including to the Google Doc. As soon as the draft is full, it’s mentioned both asynchronously or in a gathering (for extra advanced issues). Some stakeholders could agree and add different ideas. Some could disagree and say there isn’t an issue. The feedback and suggestions are all captured within the doc. The doc could be as easy or advanced as the subject itself.

As soon as we’ve settled on some options, we doc them as motion gadgets (AIs) with one instantly accountable particular person (DRI) to finish that motion inside a sure timeframe (instance: LJ, our Chief Individuals Officer, ought to create a recharge week by January 1st).

RAPID: A superb instrument for making advanced choices.

(Credit score to Jeff Weiner, who introduced this instrument to LinkedIn).

<RAPID template right here>

A RAPID is vital to getting quite a few folks throughout capabilities to decide. We’ve all been part of a company the place folks intentionally maintain up making laborious choices with passive-aggressive habits and keep away from making the laborious calls. The RAPID helps minimize via that with a transparent course of and house owners.

Listed here are the important thing parts of the RAPID strategy:

  • Suggest: One individual
  • Agree: One to 2 folks
  • Carry out: The individuals who might want to take an lively position in regardless of the choice entails
  • Enter: Anybody who is admittedly related to the dialogue who ought to add their ideas
  • Resolve: Just one individual(!) and never somebody who’s already on the RAPID

Right here’s an instance:

  • Date of Advice:
  • Date of Choice: (Ideally inside per week of the Advice)
  • Sort 1 or Sort 2 Choice: If it’s Sort 1, it’s not reversible, and you need to be further cautious in making it. If it’s Sort 2, you’ll be able to reverse the choice.

Advice: We must always exit operations in XYZ nation (this could be a Sort 1 Choice). After three years of intense effort and a number of approaches, we’ve not been capable of get to a stage of customers that warrant the extent of enterprise funding and vitality required to make us profitable on this nation.

Particulars behind the Advice: Extra data, together with quantitative, to make the advice. It ought to embody execs and cons, dangers and advantages.

  • Suggest: Title of Particular person A
  • Agree (or Disagree): Title of Particular person B
  • Carry out: Different staff who’re concerned
  • Enter: Different staff who’re concerned
  • Resolve: Title of Particular person C

Every of the named individuals has the chance to place their very own Agree or Disagree in, with their further context.

Right here’s the cool issues concerning the RAPID:

  • It permits the Resolve to see all the individuals’ suggestions within the doc
  • The whole lot is clearly written down, so it doesn’t depend on reminiscence of how or what somebody stated one thing within the room
  • You may look again in time and see the standard and pacing of your advanced choices


All instruments are imperfect, however as firms scale quickly, having norms round a couple of kinds of choice making toolsets makes an enormous distinction in driving consistency. At Coinbase, we’ve discovered that the Drawback/Proposed Answer and the RAPID are two superb instruments in our arsenal, and we use them every day to drive vital discussions and choices.

How We Make Choices at Coinbase was initially printed in The Coinbase Weblog on Medium, the place persons are persevering with the dialog by highlighting and responding to this story.

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