There are two types of work: idea work and execution work.
Idea work is everything that goes into creating something new: dreaming up new things, figuring out how you’re going to make them, and going out and creating.
Execution work is everything that goes into supporting those things once they’re live: ordering products, inputting data, closing the books, maintenance.
and under capitalism, idea work is overvalued (and often harnessed for mundane/nefarious goals) while execution work is underpaid and heavily surveilled
The six-pager democratizes invention within Amazon. Anyone inside the company can write one, and if they build enough traction, senior leadership will review it. “I read six-pagers that come from other parts of the company that don’t report to me,” Wilke told me. “I read six-pagers that are from people who are multiple levels down in the traditional organizational hierarchy. They can come from anywhere.”
i, uh... anyone?
The robots are the most visual example of Bezos’s obsession with automating whatever he can to free his employees to work on more creative tasks. “I don’t think I can remember a time where he wasn’t interested in using computing to help us achieve our mission,” Wilke said. “From the earliest days, he would look at a process, and if there was repetitive work being done by people who can be freed up to be more inventive, he would say, ‘How do we automate that process? How do we automate that routine so that our people can be as creative as possible?’”
i remember when i, too, believed this
Amid the change, one thing remains constant at Amazon: the determination to invent. Automating so much labor has freed Amazon’s corporate staff to concentrate on its invention process (they no longer have to work peak season, packing boxes). And it gives Amazonians inside the FCs the time to invent on their own. In EWR9, Virdi showed me a “continuous improvement” kiosk where employees enter ideas for new products, processes, and minor FC tweaks. Every Wednesday, Virdi and his senior staff review the best ideas for forty-five minutes. When they like what they see, they give their associates time and resources on their scheduled workdays—paid—and ask them to turn their ideas into reality. Associate feedback, to give one small example, led Amazon to make its bins yellow to help them more easily spot products and work more effectively.
this feels like corporate mythmaking rather than a realistic understanding of why corporate staff no longer 'have' to work peak season
Bezos’s joy in life comes from his work, specifically the inventive parts that make him feel like he’s back in the nineties, trying to figure out how to sell books on the internet. For many ultrasuccessful CEOs, living the good life means spending your days on private islands or coasting around the globe on a boat. For Bezos, the good life is work, and coasting is “excruciating, painful decline, followed by death.”
two things here:
pano idea - N idolizes bezos because of this quote?
Microsoft faced a similar decision with Office. The Office suite was a main draw for Windows devices, which many people bought to use Word and Excel. Making it available across mobile devices and web browsers threatened Windows. Putting Office on the browser could also cannibalize its own healthy desktop sales. The asset milkers wanted Office to be available primarily via desktop installs. The future staters, looking ahead to the coming age of mobile and cloud computing, wanted it everywhere.
Microsoft’s strategy for Office during the Ballmer years generally followed the asset milkers’ desires. Instead of building Office for web when Google released Docs and Sheets, Microsoft kept Internet Explorer slow and held Office off-line. Some years later, Microsoft put a limited version of Office on the web and released it for mobile—but only on Windows devices. Even then, Microsoft kept Office’s web version so quiet that its employees didn’t even know it was live.
classic case of user needs != ms incentives (vendor lock-in)
The final element of Nadella’s plan to inspire collaboration at Microsoft was to change the way the company evaluated employees. Microsoft had a long history of performance evaluations called “stack rankings” that pitted its employees against one another. The dreaded system forced managers to rate their reports on a bell curve. No matter how good a team was, or how evenly talented its members were, a preordained number of people would get great reviews, and a set amount would get poor reviews.
“Let’s say your whole team was the same skill level; you still had to force it,” one former senior manager told me. “Somebody was going to get a huge bonus, and someone’s going to get borderline fired. Not that extreme, but it’s going to happen.”
Because of this, employees sabotaged one another. And the company’s most talented people went out of their way not to work with one another. “Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings,” the Vanity Fair article said. “Microsoft employees not only tried to do a good job but also worked hard to make sure their colleagues did not.”
psychotic system, clearly bound to inspire negative solidarity