Jeff Bezos (Amazon) on Structure

Subject: Jeff Bezos (Amazon) on Structure
From: "Jessica N. Lange" <jlange -at- oee -dot- com>
To: "TechWR-L" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 13:02:12 -0400

Reading Wired July 2000 last night, this bit from an interview
with Jeff Bezos of seemed to fit in with the
discussion on Structure and Process. (To me, structure and
process = the worst part of bureaucracy. I like the last
para, saying you need both the bureaucrats & the creatives.)

Wired: So what have you learned lately about management?

Jeff B: That you need a strong planning process. that as you grow,
the management process needs to be less ad hoc and more formal.

W: Sounds like a bureaucracy.

JB: It sounds like it, but it's not. In a bureaucracy people mindlessly
follow rules instead of thinking on their own. But a strong planning
process is actually very empowering and allows for decentralization,
because everybody is moving in the same direction. Even from the
beginning we've had a very formal hiring process. You need process
for anything that's repetitive because you don't want to have to
reinvent the wheel every time. There is a very widespread mis-
understanding about process: People believe that all process is bad.


W: How do you prevent the creep of bureaucracy?

JB: If you ever get ahold of the magic bullet, call me. I believe the
factor is the people. There are people who like to think and people who
like to follow rules. You need both: you need diversity in a company.
But you really need a critical mass of people who will only tolerate
good process. What happens is that 10 or 15 percent of the people
will tip the company one way or the other. If you end up with your
influencers being nonbureaucratic, the rest of the company will tip
that way. So you try to select for that in the interview process.

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