Business Innovation Jimmy Wales Leadership

Leadership: Here’s a Quick Way to Make Better Decisions with Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia

16th August 2015

I am fascinated by decision making that facilitates great leadership, I have searched high and low on how successful people make good decisions, and considering Wikipedia’s success is so monumentally counter intuitive in what one might think about the market forces and what drives it i.e. proift alone, I find him particularly interesting as a social entrepreneur and for his leadership: imagine your pitch is this “I have an idea, how about we create a site in which people donate their time, energy and expertise and there’s no reward for it, apart from being happy they did it” one would think in traditional circles this would never work, it sounds so naive, however, wikipedia is a success that is one of the pillars of the community that is the free internet..truly inspirational, and clearly a sign of a great innovator,..his answer regarding good decisions speaks for itself and speak of a leadership attributes..

“Indecision is a worse enemy than a bad decision..

I think I am quite good at making decisions, which is not completely the same thing as being good at making good decisions. But in terms of the overall impact in life, these two things are often very highly related.

I think most people have a bigger problem actually making decisions than in knowing how to make better or worse decisions. Fear may prevent you from just making up your mind about something, even when deep down you know the answer.

When I was younger, I wasn’t nearly as good at deciding things. When faced with a choice between A and B, I would sometimes agonize over the choice so much that I’d end up doing C. And ‘C’ would be wasting time and avoiding actually moving forward.

Get comfortable with making mistakes, so that when you think you are right you can make a move without so much fear about making a mistake.

Remember, you’ll never make a good decision unless you actually make decisions in the first place.

2. Look for options that fail faster and fail gracefully

Another way to reduce the fear of making decisions is to look for options that fail gracefully. Another way of saying this is to not burn bridges. When I first started on my entrepreneurial career, my first investor was my boss at my old job. Instead of quitting and launching out into the blue, I maintained that relationship and he was supportive of the venture. If it hadn’t worked out, I could have gone back to my old job.

In terms of ‘fail faster’ I am talking about what is generally known as the ‘lean startup’ methodology of building the minimum viable product for market testing purposes. I don’t necessarily fully endorse any particular author on this concept, but in general I think it’s the right approach – and to more than just startups!

If someone says “I am thinking of buying a boat” I say “Have you rented several boats before?” Renting a boat is like the “minimum viable product” for being a boater. If you rent it and have a terrible time, you’ve wasted a few hours and a much smaller amount of money. If you don’t look for that kind of solution, you are likely to be paralyzed for years thinking about buying a boat, fantasizing about it, but never actually doing it. This option is ‘C’ – worse than either ‘A’ (buying a boat) or ‘B’ (realizing you don’t want a boat and moving on to something else).”

Written 27 Feb, 2014. Asked to answer by Mark M. Whelan.

Wales J. How does Jimmy Wales make his decisions? What methodologies
>>> does he use? 27 Feb 2014. Available at
>>> Accessed Jan 15 2015.

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  • Reply Jimmy Wales | Social Bookmarks | 21st August 2015 at 10:18

    […] I am fascinated by decision making and have searched high and low how successful people make good decisions, and considering Wikipedia's success is so monu…  […]

  • Reply eckhart tolle 30th March 2016 at 05:33

    Often, we find you do what you don’t want to do because you don’t want to rock the boat. You are afraid of the conflict and guilt that comes with saying, “no.” You fear changing the rules because others won’t understand.

    The point is, you make decisions from looking at the past, rather than making decisions that guide you toward a better future.

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