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Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Way, by New York Times

jeff bezos and the amazon way new york times


The real issue Amazon’s work culture raises — for blue- and white-collar employees alike — is: How disposable are people?

A previous generation of Americans could count on a social compact; if you stuck loyally by a company, it would stick by you, providing you with a good job and a decent retirement. Long ago, loyalty fell by the wayside, and longtime employees learned that their loyalty meant nothing when companies “downsized.”

Amazon — and, to be sure, any number of other companies as well — has taken this idea to its logical extreme: Bring people in, shape them in the Amazon style of confrontation and workaholism, and cast them aside when they have outlived their usefulness.

For a data-driven executive like Bezos, this kind of culture is appealing, because it maximizes the amount of work a company can wring from fundamentally fungible human beings. The question Amazon’s culture raises is whether it is an outlier — or whether it represents the future of the workplace.

Of course, Bezos didn’t have to build Amazon the way he did. He could have created a culture that valued employees and treated them well. But that would have required him to care about what somebody else thought. Fat chance.

Stashed in: Culture, Awesome, Amazon, Leadership, Jeff Bezos, AMZN, @RonaldLHayes1, Jeff Bezos

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Even Jeff Bezos admits that no one would want to work for the culture the New York Times describes:

"Culture eats strategy for lunch"- a well known quote attributed to Peter Drucker. Volumes have been written on the tensions between culture and strategy, but my experience is that, for better or for worse, culture is the responsibility and product of leadership. Even effective leadership, like money, is morally neutral and can arbitrarily embrace constructive or destructive values. The obligations of leadership extend beyond bold vision statements. When leadership fails to deeply integrate the core values of the "Good", even the grandest ethical assertions are mere platitudes. Evil is the opposition to growth. A mandate of "Don't be evil" is  to foster the growth not only of the organization but EVERY individual within it.   

ronald hayes

Well said, Ron.

I think, at the very least, this article made Jeff Bezos take a look at himself and his culture.

Seems like it's very important to keep getting better.

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