Aaron Levie likes to joke about a time in March when he prepared managers at his enterprise-cloud-storage company Box to return to the office in two weeks. It's only amusing because it obviously never happened: The 2,000-person company, which did $600 million in revenue in 2019, has been operating almost entirely virtually for more than seven months now.
Levie is a proponent of transparency in leadership, and likes to share his decision-making processes with his staff, he said at the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference Tuesday. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced him to think harder about his own process, including timing his important decisions--and when to communicate them.
"You're having to predict all of these different external environmental impacts to your business, and you can make decisions that are fatal or not to your company based on which turn you take," Levie said. "The most stressful thing is knowing when to make those decisions."
He said he has come to look at decisions as either "one-way doors" or "two-way doors," a concept Amazon's Jeff Bezos has discussed. Two-way doors, Levie explained, are decisions on launches or features that can be reversed fairly easily. One-way doors are fundamental business decisions and almost impossible to reverse, or walk back through. An example would be to declare you want your workforce to stay remote forever. "You want to only go through them when you have a high degree of certainty," he said.
"I've certainly been trying to avoid as many one-way doors as possible," he added. "Because ... we just don't know what's going to happen next."
Levie's advice to other executives unsure of what the rest of 2020 or 2021 will bring: "Avoid anything that could be a massive change that could lead to a self-inflicted wound."