Jeff Bezos Just Got Something Money Can’t Buy: His Own Management Philosophy

Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP via Getty Images

Business students have been trying to get themselves into Jeff Bezos’ mind for years.

On Amazon, the platform he created, there are dozens of books on his business practices: The store of everything, Amazon unrelated, Invent and wander, Bezos letters, Bezosnomics

Books are one thing. But you know that you have really successful when you have your own management philosophy.

“Bezosism” is the philosophy that drives Amazon warehouses

Invented by The Wall Street Journalof Christopher Mims, bezosism is rooted in the idea that warehouse workers “make the beat”. This is how it works:

  1. Amazon’s fulfillment centers are filled with a combination of sensors and software that track every worker’s activity.
  2. This data allows Amazon to compile a work rate that is essentially an average of the overall performance of all workers in the facility.
  3. If workers cannot keep up, they will receive an algorithm-triggered warning. Too many warnings can result in termination.
  4. To stop warnings before they happen, warehouse managers hold stand-up meetings twice a day where they brief each worker on their classification.

Amazon maintains that a floating average = a reasonable workload …

… But the practice led to a toxic environment for some warehouse workers.

  • Some workers say the constant focus on success rate leads to unproductive cross-team competition
  • This leads workers to cut corners to work faster, sometimes at the expense of safety

This may be responsible for Amazon’s injury rate, which amounted to 5.6 injuries per 100 workers in 2019, compared to 4.8 per 100 for the average US warehouse.

Bezosism could soon be the subject of regulation …

… Thanks to a new bill introduced in California targeting warehouse quotas.

Currently, a standard 10 hour shift includes a 30 minute lunch break and 2 15 minute rest breaks. The bill could force Amazon to reduce quotas to give employees more time for breaks.

The problem extends beyond the warehouse, with some Amazon delivery drivers being forced to find creative ways to relieve themselves (read: bottles and bags).

The next time you’re wondering how your last impulse buy got to your door so quickly, thank Bezosism – for better or for worse.

About Leslie Schwartz

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