Emily Choi, President and Chief Operating Officer
TLDR: We use problem / suggested solutions and RAPID as our main tool for making difficult decisions and landing in good resolution.
One of the top three questions I received from candidates is: “How do you decide on Coinbase?” What they are getting is, how do we break politics and bureaucracy to get politics done quickly? We use two tools at Coinbase to help cut noise and solve the problems we’re struggling with:
- Problems / Suggested Solutions are great for dealing with common work issues.
- RAPIDs are a great tool for breaking down difficult decisions and making really good decisions. Here we use each of these tools.
Coinbase is a written culture, which means that we want to visualize our thoughts, processes and decisions on paper. It helps us to clear our thoughts and increase our understanding with each other. We use Google Docs for collaboration, which allows us to comment transparently and ask questions. This decision-making structure is an important element of this written culture.
Problem / Suggested Solution (P / PS): The ultimate way to cut noise.
(Credit Matt Mochari, Who came up with P / PS and discussed it in it Books).
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P / PS is a great tool for solving your annoying problems. It may be that you feel that the performance management process needs to be improved, or that we need fewer meetings, or that our organization structure needs to be reconsidered, or that anything needs to be promoted to a certain level for you. We all have those instincts and still sometimes we don’t know how to raise them in the right way. We want to encourage productive problem solving and P / PS can help.
The key to an effective problem / proposed solution
- Short and simple: It should be light and take <15 minutes to write. It should only average one page.
- Focus on solutions: Consistent with the value of our positive energy, you not only shed light on the problem, but you also offer a solution.
Here is a very short, lightweight example:
Problem: We have many meetings. This is reducing the ability of employees to get real work done.
Suggested solutions / s:
- Kill all repeat meetings
- There are no meeting days
- Create friction to add a meeting (any new meeting invitation needs to include a meeting agenda and goals)
You then send P / PS to anyone relevant to start adding Google Doc. Once the draft is complete, it is discussed in asynchronous or meeting (for more complex issues). Some stakeholders may agree and others may add suggestions. Some may disagree and say there is no problem. Comments and feedback are all caught in the dock. Doc topics can be as simple or complex.
Once we have decided on some solution, we record their work items (AIs) with a person directly responsible (DRI) to accomplish that task within a specified time frame (example: LJ, our chief public officer, create a recharge week) To be done by 1st January).
Quick: An excellent tool for making complex decisions.
(Credit to Jeff Weiner, who brought it up Tool LinkedIn).
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The key to many people making decisions across a RAPID function. We’ve all become part of an organization where people deliberately make tough decisions with passive-aggressive behavior and avoid making tough calls. RAPID is a clean process and helps owners cut it.
Here are the key elements of the RAPID method:
- Recommendation: One person
- Agree: One to two people
- Edit: They have to take an active part in all the decisions
- Input: Anyone who is really relevant to the discussion should add their thoughts
- Decide: Only one person (!) And no one who is already in RAPID
Here is an example:
- Recommendation date:
- Decision date: (Ideally within one week of recommendation)
- Type 1 or type 2 decision: If it is type 1, it is not reversed and you need to be extra careful in making it. If it is type 2, you can reverse the decision.
Recommendation: We should stop operations in XYZ country (this would be a Type 1 decision). After three years of intense effort and multiple approaches, we have not been able to reach a level of users that guarantees the level of business investment and energy needed to succeed in our country.
Details behind the recommendation: More information including quantitative to recommend. This should include professionalism and disadvantages, risks and advantages.
- Recommendation: Person name A
- Agree or disagree): Name of the person b
- Edit: Other employees who are involved
- Input: Other employees who are involved
- Decide: Person’s name c
Each of the nominees has the opportunity to express their own consent or disagreement with their own context.
Here are some great things about RAPID:
- This allows Decide to view all of the participants’ responses to the document
- Everything is clearly written, so it doesn’t depend on the memory of how or when someone said something in the house
- You can look back in time and see the value and dynamics of your complex decisions
All tools are imperfect, but as companies scale faster, the norms between several types of decision-making toolsets make a huge difference in driving continuity. At Coinbase, we’ve found that problem / suggested solutions and RAPID are two amazing tools in our arsenal, and we use them every day to drive important discussions and decisions.
How we decide on Coinbase was originally published in the medium on The Coinbase blog, where people continue to converse and respond to the story.