You have probably read something (or maybe a lot) about Amazon recently, following the article by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld in the New York Times titled “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace – The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.”
From an employee engagement, morale, management and leadership perspective the whole article is fascinating and well worth reading.
The tsunami of responses (both in favour and vehemently against and aghast) are also worth reading. Here are just a couple;
- What Amazon’s Work Culture Tells Us About Employee Disengagement by Ryan Scott
- Why We Shouldn’t Hate on Amazon’s Culture by Brian Fielkow
It’s All About Culture
I highlight these two because they make some points about the overall aspect in the article that I think is most worthy of consideration by those of us who aren’t employed at Amazon. And that’s its Culture.
In the first paragraph of the New York Times article Kantor and Streitfeld reference Amazon’s ‘Leadership Principles‘; (the “14 rules” that should guide them to be the best Amazonians that they can be).
Clearly these lie at the heart (or should that be steel) of Amazon’s way of working.
Viewed in the context of these 14 principles, everything else in the article makes perfect sense. Whether you or I agree or disagree with them, whether you or I would want to work in such an organisation is not the issue.
The issue is that Amazon employees and leaders are following, using and living the principles and hence operating to a well defined company culture. And it is clear that this contributes in great degree to Amazon’s success.
Would Amazon’s Principles work for you?
Almost certainly not; because you are you, not Jeff Bezos, your company is not Amazon and you probably don’t have an almost limitless supply of prospective employees eager to join your firm.
What Can We Learn from Amazon?
Here are 6 points we can learn from Amazon and explore, adjust and apply to our own organisations;
- Culture defines what we do and how we do it
- Your company Culture is a reflection and amplification of the person you actually are…and not the person you think you are
- If you are unhappy with the ways things are, change the way you behave
- Establish your own set of ‘Leadership Principles’ (we tend to call them Values. Here is how we apply them in the extraMILETM programme)
- Use them every day, to inspire, inform and support your decision making across everything you and your employees do
- Ensure your employees and colleagues do the same
That way, you won’t end up as a poor faded copy of Amazon, you will be a shining full colour original you. And that’s the power of a well defined company culture.
Photo Credit: Jeff_Bezos’_iconic_laugh.jpg: by Steve Jurvetson derivative work: King of Hearts [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons