It’s easy to criticize Amazon until you realize that what Bezos is doing is what every disruptive company desperately needs.
The firestorm of controversy about the work environment at Amazon, sparked by the recent New York Times article, has become almost religious. Not only has it surfaced an important dialogue about the personal cost of success, innovation, and entrepreneurship, but it has also brought to center stage the increasing importance of entrepreneurship in organizations of every size.
The New York Times article focused on the enormous toll Amazon’s culture of ambition takes on its employees. But what struck me most was that we’re measuring Amazon by an artificial metric when, in fact, what Amazon has created is exactly what makes entrepreneurship so critically important to an economy; and I can prove it to you using the New York Times article in less than a minute with four quick steps.
1. Go to the article here.
2. Copy and paste it into a Word doc, then do the following:
3. Replace “Amazon” with “Free Market Economy.”
4. Replace “Employee” with “Entrepreneur.”
Now, go ahead and humor me, please; try reading the article again.
What you will notice is that everything it says about how horribly unfair Amazon is, how ruthlessly it pushes its employees, how incredibly abrasive and truthful its culture is, how unforgiving the priority of innovation is, and how demanding Amazon is of its employees, will suddenly make perfect sense for the way entrepreneurship works in any free market economy.
The reality is that what Jeff Bezos has done is what incredibly successful leaders do over and over; they create an internal dynamic that mimics the free market. And yet, every time I see this playing out, the company is lambasted for the way it treats its employees, and its CEO paraded out in public as a monomaniacal taskmaster.
The full article at Inc.