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POPin Blog

Amazon’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good and Very Bad Day

Yes, it’s safe to say that the folks at Amazon did not have a very good weekend. By now, we trust that you’ve read the brutal and scathing NY Times article published last Sunday. The article —“Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace” — gave accounts of workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises who said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover in Amazon’s intense and fast-paced workplace. The article “described how they tried to reconcile the sometimes-punishing aspects of their workplace with what many called its thrilling power to create.” Admittedly, it’s a fascinating read that chronicling the good (“thrilling power to create”), the bad (teams encouraged to tear up each other’s ideas), to the downright ugly (grown-ups visibly crying at their desks). It definitely made us want to find out more about what goes on inside of the country’s most valuable retailer ($25B and counting). But we’ll leave it to the experts to investigate. We were actually just as transfixed by Amazon’s published 14 leadership principles and how they intersect with ‘where technology wants to take the modern office: more nimble and more productive, but harsher and less forgiving.’ Those leadership principles are daring in both its simplicity and its adaptation. They’re not just a vague company mission statement, but a true yardstick that employees are directed and measured upon. Here are our top 3: Ownership (#2) “Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job”.” What do we say? In our opinion this is about having a start-up atmosphere no matter the size. It’s about approaching your role as you would if you were the CEO or founder. Invent and Simplify (#3) “Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here”. As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time. “ What do we say? Well, it’s no secret that we love the mavericks and game changers who challenge the status quo and push for creativity and the impossible. It just requires that leaders give their teams freedom to make mistakes and the freedom to ask a lot of questions. Very few of us can hit a ball out of the park on their first time at bat. Learn and Be Curious (#10) “Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.” What do we say? The leader that thinks they know it all will quickly find themselves unemployed. Effective leaders are learners and have an insatiable curiosity. They ask questions. They reinvent and they evolve.