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The Wall Street Journal has a story about what is described as "a gantlet of people" who work for Amazon that, in addition to their full-time jobs, "play a crucial role in Amazon’s hiring process, interviewing job candidates in other parts of the company. With a word, they can veto any candidate, even if their expertise is in an area that has nothing to do with the prospective employee’s."

The goal has been to create a more consistent and holistic organization that is less plagued by the silos that often hurt other companies, and the approach dyes back to Amazon's early days.

However, there's one problem - as Amazon grows (there are now more than 110,000 employees), it has become harder and harder to have enough bar raisers to go around.

The Journal writes: "There are several hundred bar raisers today across the company, according to former employees, though Amazon won’t confirm a total. Some employees shun the bar-raiser designation, a voluntary program that comes with no extra pay, even though it reportedly can lead to speedier promotions, because of the time demands. Bar raisers may be asked to assess as many as 10 candidates a week, for between two and three hours each, including paperwork and meetings—all while doing their regular full-time job, be it in finance, marketing or product development.

"That has led to a crunch of bar raisers at times, some managers say."

There are a couple of things that grab me about this story.

One is how smart the whole bar raiser concept it. I've been doing this a long time, and pretty much from the beginning, I've heard industry experts decrying the whole silo problem as being one of the central handicaps hurting the retail business. It is very smart for a company to try to eliminate the problem from the beginning.

That said … the notion that Amazon has grown to the point that it is having trouble being loyal even to a core organizational tenet gives one a sense of the challenges that will continue to face the company. I've heard this before … and that Amazon is trying to compensate by relying more on algorithms than on individual expertise, which could create problems down the road, especially when it comes to any rollout of Amazon Fresh.

This won't be an easy road for Amazon. And I have to wonder if the next 10 years of the company's existence could actually be more challenging than the first 10 years.
KC's View: