It’s not hard, no, but it is career limiting. The subtext here is that in order to advance in your career within the given organizational structure, participation in these games is encouraged, if not required. It’s not an invitation so much as a test of who is a “cultural fit.”
Rather than go into a discussion about nepotism and data-driven hiring I’ll just quote one of amazon’s leadership principles:
Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
The part I call out there is specifically relevant as fostering a promotion strategy with an out sized focus on “cultural fit” as described in the article is the definition of doing something for the sake of social cohesion. You don’t need to look any further than the specific composition (read: people) that make up the reporting chain in a group to determine if that is the case.
That said, the author of the article chose to pick their battles and the time to fight them. Amazon is a company where jumping teams and organizations is extremely common, if not encouraged. They waited until they were safely out of the fallout radius and made their case, rather publicly. Right or wrong, that’s at least backbone, if nothing else. There’s certainly no bonus points for falling on your sword.