What Does Amazon’s Inside Culture Mean for Talent Development Executives?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


On August 15, The New York Times revealed an inside look at the culture of the most valuable retailer in the world, Amazon. The article points out that “just as Jeff Bezos was able to see the future of e-commerce before anyone else, he was able to envision a new kind of workplace: fluid but tough, with employees staying only a short time and employers demanding the maximum.”

Former employee Liz Pearce says, “Amazon is driven by data…It will only change if the data says it must—when the entire way of hiring and working and firing stops making economic sense.”


This somewhat shocking commentary disclosed largely by former employees—mixed with accounts from Amazon-approved current staff—raises some questions for talent development executives.

  • Will workplace cultures guided by “purposeful Darwinism,” stack ranking, and other data-driven people decisions become the norm?

  • How will employers engage and motivate talent while remaining competitive with other organizations, many of which demand 24/7 connectivity to the job?

  • As predictive analytics increasingly inform hiring, performance, and succession decisions, where will the lines blur between treating employees like human beings and treating them like disposable assets?

Please share in the Comments what you think the implications of this way of work are for the talent development profession? What’s more, how can you, as leaders in talent development, begin to address these ideas today?

About the Author

Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.

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