The New York Times published an exposé outlining egregious people and culture practices at Amazon, from mandatory annual cullings to abrasively direct criticism in meetings.
The Times piece was by no means based on empirical data – merely anecdotal accounts from more than 100 current and past employees. But for the sake of argument, let’s say Amazon has a culture problem… Why?
We can look at this through the lens of a great framework from Seth Godin (page 5). He suggests the fastest path to losing your way is to base decisions on only one scale. In other words: high performance, or not, which appears to be the single driving factor in Amazon’s culture. This creates a seesaw effect.
The alternative is to use two balancing factors… For example: performance and caring. This creates another plane of balance, with it being possible to be both empathetic (caring) and highly talented (performance).
If you want to create great culture, you have to pick at least two factors. Evaluating your organization on one factor alone is a path to one outcome at the expense of all else.
If you pick just one North Star, that’s exactly what you’ll get. But is that really what you want?
Thanks to Nick Toomey for the inspiration for today’s post.
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