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CASE STUDY: The Management Style of Amazon's Jeff Bezos...

Of course, quotes taken out of context are always just that - out of context.  But, they generally give a window to the soul of the leadership style of a founder or the person who's in charge of an operation.  Consider the following quotes attributed to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and then hit me in the comments or in an email reply with your favorite:

“Are you lazy or just incompetent?” Bezos

“I’m sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?”

“Do I need to go down and get the certificate that says I’m CEO of the company to get you to stop challenging me on this?”

“Are you trying to take credit for something you had nothing to do with?”

“If I hear that idea again, I’m gonna have to kill myself.”

“We need to apply some human intelligence to this problem.”

[After reviewing the annual plan from the supply chain team] “I guess supply chain isn’t doing anything interesting next year.”

[After reading a start-of-meeting memo] “This document was clearly written by the B team. Can someone get me the A team document? I don’t want to waste my time with the B team document.”

[After an engineer’s presentation] “Why are you wasting my life?”

What's your favorite Bezos quote?  Mine has to be "Can someone get me the A team document?"  Classic.  Snarky. Biting.  A mini-performance review packed into 3 sentences.  I envision Kevin Spacey playing Bezos in the Amazon movie.  Part Verbal Kent and part Keyser Soze.

These quotes and more are yours over at BusinessWeek in an article called The Secrets of Bezos: How Amazon Became the Everything Store, which excerpts the following new book - THE EVERYTHING STORE: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, by Brad Stone. 

This is your must read article for the week. You're going to be able to take it and forward it to any operator you support as an HR leader, and they're going to love you.

Here's one more reason why in addition to quotes above.  The Amazon fire drill that follows customer complaints that Bezos takes a personal interest in.  Check it out:

"Within there’s a certain type of e-mail that elicits waves of panic. It usually originates with an annoyed customer who complains to the company’s founder and chief executive officer. Jeff Bezos has a public e-mail address, [email protected]. Not only does he read many customer complaints, he forwards them to the relevant Amazon employees, with a one-character addition: a question mark.

When Amazon employees get a Bezos question mark e-mail, they react as though they’ve discovered a ticking bomb. They’ve typically got a few hours to solve whatever issue the CEO has flagged and prepare a thorough explanation for how it occurred, a response that will be reviewed by a succession of managers before the answer is presented to Bezos himself. Such escalations, as these e-mails are known, are Bezos’s way of ensuring that the customer’s voice is constantly heard inside the company.

One of the more memorable escalations occurred in late 2010. It had come to Bezos’s attention that customers who had browsed the lubricants section of Amazon’s sexual wellness category were receiving personalized e-mails pitching a variety of gels and other intimacy facilitators. Bezos demanded to meet in person."

Go read that account.  You'll be glad you did.


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