Whatever he had in mind, it was communicated in an incredibly poor way. The prize for messaging goes to Amazon Corporate Communications that left this (communication) mess happen.
Amazon working practices (see amongst other ‘Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace’) produced unwanted bad publicity. Jeff Bezos, CEO, went furious: ‘if anybody works like this, it should not be here’ etc, and wanted to reassure everybody that the negative conditions will be addressed. By whom? By HR, of course, the culprits of working conditions.
(It’s a function problem, you see? this is why we have them?)
His line of reaction would be simply hilarious (working non stop to address people working non stop) if not sad. Many sources rapidly said that he did not mean that, and that he was genuinely concerned and not accepting the existence of those bad conditions.
We are still today struggling with the 24/7 information environment that, in corporate terms, needs a 24/7, ahead of the game, Communication function. I have no idea what Amazon Corporate Communications looks like but this was not its finest hour.
The spontaneous reply from an Amazonian in Linkedin (‘An Amazonian’s response to “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace“, ) viewed by 1.1million people, perhaps helped. Good for that. Comms off the hook?
Aside form the topic itself, it makes me think of the need to seriously upgrade our Corporate Communications functions, historically largely reactive (to something) and defensive (about something), and convert them into the keepers of an overall, proactive, compelling narrative (if you have one).
Corporate Communication must not be crisis management. The sooner they understand the better. As a function, it has gone a long way in the upgrade (as compared with a still struggling, mountain climbing HR) but they need to do more.
This is a good case study to start. I am sure that corporate function has a good plan for sophisticated social media management. This was a case of plain vanilla, basics, miscommunication.