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    One of Amazon’s Leadership Principles is “Are Right a Lot” and I think that speaks to this article.

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      I disagree with enshrining “Be right” as a leadership principle.

      • Anyone who does important work knows that the only way to get it done is to be wrong. A lot.

      • If you’re doing new work, nobody knows what they’re doing. If they seem like they do, then either they’re fooling themselves (or you) or the work isn’t new.

      • Promoting “Be right” to a core principle encourages a culture of covering up mistakes.

      • It’s dumb. I was going to be more articulate with this point, but it’s true: It’s like promoting “Don’t steal” to a leadership principle and then celebrating that none of the leaders steal anything.

      The real point of the principle is to subconsciously make you feel like (a) what your boss tells you to do is right – both morally and technically – and (b) that your leaders should be followed. It’s basically propaganda.

      EDIT: On reflection, I cut out the parts criticizing Amazon specifically. We can discuss general principles without talking about any specific company, and the critique is stronger for it.

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        “Be Right, A Lot” is flexible enough to subsume all of your criticisms with one more iteration of thinking what “being right” means. If promoting “be right” encourages people to cover up mistakes (i.e. do something “wrong”–deceive), people are not being right, and they should do better.

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          Well said. My interpretation of this has always been “be thoughtful and data driven in your decision making. Optimize for positive outcomes and put ego aside wherever possible when making decisions.”

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            I like your explicit version much more

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            Any simple maxim is flexible in this way, and if we interpret them all with such flexibility they’re all equally useless. Might it be more useful to judge them by the ways they’re most likely misinterpreted (at scale, in a large org like AMZN) than in the most generous and philosophical light?

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              You’re right. This type of maxim says little enough to never be wrong, which means it exists not to clarify, but to affirm. To be more useful, it should be more specific.

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            The real point of the principle is to subconsciously make you feel like (a) what your boss tells you to do is right – both morally and technically – and (b) that your leaders should be followed. It’s basically propaganda.

            How does morality enter into it?

            I take your point about the nature of working in technology leading to by necessity being wrong a lot, and I don’t actually think this LP precludes that, but are you saying that people who make good calls and smart decisions shouldn’t be rewarded and emulated?

            EDIT: On reflection, I cut out the parts criticizing Amazon specifically. We can discuss general principles without talking about any specific company, and the critique is stronger for it.

            Thank you for that. Amazon is not a monoculture. My office and the service I work for within AWS is a great place to work as far as I’m concerned. If it were a sweat shop with horrid working conditions devoid of any value to its employees, why would it be one of the larger employers of technology workers in the world? Are you saying that we’re all caught up in the bravado of working for an industry giant or that we don’t actually understand the situation we’re in?

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            Wow, I’m somehow never stumbled upon these principles before, but I completely agree.

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              Bryan Cantrill, the CTO of Joyent, thinks they’re pretty much horseshit: https://youtu.be/9QMGAtxUlAc?t=1593. (He also thinks they’re not even principles.)

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                They’re great and one of the things I love about working here. So many companies frame “OUR CORPORATE VALUES” shove them on the wall and then forget about them. We use them all the time as a way of doing business.

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                  That’s awesome. Do they also integrate into performance evaluation, like who gets promoted, fired, etc.

                  I think it’s always disappointing when companies have a specific set of values, but then the key decisions in terms of who is rewarded don’t necessarily align with those values.

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                    Do they also integrate into performance evaluation, like who gets promoted, fired, etc

                    Not @feoh but also work at Amazon, and in my experience yes. All feedback for evaluations is tied to leadership principles and they also feature in any promo docs.

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                      Absolutely. Huge part of our hiring process as well.