Why Bezos actually agrees with the NYT article
The article on Amazon and its response from Bezos are circling around the web. I wanted to breakdown the Bezos response a bit. In my perspective it actually supports the NYT article while it tries to counter. Here my quick list:
1) lamenting the length of the article and the tacit “read it on your own time” because it would otherwise mean productivity hit
2) responding to the problem with a hammer though I guess that one is a catch 22. But the tone of the letter and the threat of great vengeance on those who are not tolerant of the employees and show no empathy is in itself harsh and showing little empathy. But I’d let that one go…
3) ignoring that many people actually do make the choice of not wanting to work at Amazon. So the data suggests a problem and we know how much amazon loves making decisions with data. So when you see the data being brushed aside it points to active ignorance or tacit endorsement.
4) ignoring the fact that the amazon Bezos sees and knows is quite different from one seen by people on the lower ranks. It’s a given that when you’re at the top people filter that things they tell you. One of the great advices Obama was told he was given by past presidents was that he won’t ever hear the truth after his inauguration. And he said that’s the hardest thing. It takes some perspective to see that what you know might not be the truth.
5) assuming that people who are on the wrong end of an abusive relationship will always speak up. As in, there is no rape in the military otherwise the generals would have heard of it…
6) assuming that you will now hear the truth because you expose your very we’ll known email address to the employees that already have it.
7) telling people to essentially leave if they don’t like it by saying you wouldn’t take such abuse and would leave. This is exactly the issue where people feel like they are replaceable cogs in the machine. “If you were to leave we’d miss you for like a minute and the company will be just fine” is something I’ve not only heard, I’ve probably said it proudly. That’s just how amazon is. Its good for Adam Smith times but we’re in 2015 and have learned better. In fact, amazon goes to great length to institute Lean and Toyota production system in its operations were the first, most important, tenet is respect for people. Of the lean movement amazon has absorbed the “eliminate waste” and part of that waste it sees as empathy for anything like a human emotion. I would really doubt if anyone at Amazon could seriously doubt that the company would vastly prefer drones and robots to humans whenever and wherever possible. With the exception of Bezos himself.
Introspection isn’t really a value at Amazon.
I would have had little problem with Bezos if he had written something in the style of Michael Jordan’s “no apology for being the greatest” hall of fame speech:
I would have been fine with it. Amazon is what it is because of Bezos. The company is the embodiment of his vision from what it does in the market to how it is internally. It’s a wonderfully consistent place to work. The vision is firm and unchanging. The culture is solid and definitely a cult. The company demands everything from everyone, employees, suppliers, the city it lives in, the places where FCs exist, governements, states.
What is disappointing is that either Bezos caved to media pressure, or is actually oblivious. I think the latter since he’s not one to cave to external pressures of this sort. And in light of what happened with the Fire phone, it’s quite likely that Bezos is somewhat disconnected from his vast company.
The emperor has no clothes. It’s cool if the emperor likes it that way and goes out streaking with intention. Otherwise, it’s pretty obscene.