Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Amazon: The Success Academies Of The Internets

There has been plenty written about how badly Amazon, the world's "Most Like Walmart" company that never seems to get the same hostility Walmart gets, treats its blue collar workforce.

Today the NY Times reports on how they treat their white collar workforce:

SEATTLE — On Monday mornings, fresh recruits line up for an orientation intended to catapult them into Amazon’s singular way of working.

They are told to forget the “poor habits” they learned at previous jobs, one employee recalled. When they “hit the wall” from the unrelenting pace, there is only one solution: “Climb the wall,” others reported. To be the best Amazonians they can be, they should be guided by the leadership principles, 14 rules inscribed on handy laminated cards. When quizzed days later, those with perfect scores earn a virtual award proclaiming, “I’m Peculiar” — the company’s proud phrase for overturning workplace conventions.

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)

Many of the newcomers filing in on Mondays may not be there in a few years. The company’s winners dream up innovations that they roll out to a quarter-billion customers and accrue small fortunes in soaring stock. Losers leave or are fired in annual cullings of the staff — “purposeful Darwinism,” one former Amazon human resources director said. Some workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover.

Even as the company tests delivery by drone and ways to restock toilet paper at the push of a bathroom button, it is conducting a little-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable. The company, founded and still run by Jeff Bezos, rejects many of the popular management bromides that other corporations at least pay lip service to and has instead designed what many workers call an intricate machine propelling them to achieve Mr. Bezos’ ever-expanding ambitions.

“This is a company that strives to do really big, innovative, groundbreaking things, and those things aren’t easy,” said Susan Harker, Amazon’s top recruiter. “When you’re shooting for the moon, the nature of the work is really challenging. For some people it doesn’t work.”

Gee, sounds like a wonderful place to work.

Perhaps they can pass out some Depends for the white collar workers, because God knows, there is NO TIME to go the bathroom when there is money to be made, businesses to be disrupted, innovation to be enjoyed, etc.

Sounds a lot like Success Academies, doesn't it?

And of course Dear Leader at Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is a supporter of education reformers like Success Academies.

Makes sense when you see the insanity of the company he created, the damage it does to its employees.

Comes out of the same mental, emotional and spiritual illness that Success Academies comes from.

Listen, if damaging your health, working 24/7 and never turning off the connection to work is what it takes to be a "success" in 21st Century America, then I'm happy to "fail".


  1. Reformers want schools to duplicate these sorts of environments so they can get socially subsidized indoctrination of their workers. For too long schools have been out of synch with market values like letting poor people die. Instead of having to administer the abusive shock therapy themselves the 'job creators' want the taxpayer--often the parent of the student--to underwrite the normalization of this sort of abusive environment by institutionalizing it from kindergarten up to grade 12. They want us to pay to train our children to be their servants.

    1. One of the most perceptive comments I have read in a long while.