Amazon’s Culture “Asks a Lot of Questions”

(p. B2) John Mackey helped popularize organic food when he co-founded Whole Foods Market four decades ago. Over the past several months, his chain of more than 500 stores has scrambled to adapt to another major shift in how Americans buy groceries.

. . .

The pandemic has accelerated an online-grocery movement that Whole Foods was already seeking to capitalize on as part of Inc. Mr. Mackey sold Whole Foods to the online-retail juggernaut for $13.4 billion in 2017, one of the decisions he recounts in his new book out this month, “Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business.”

. . .

WSJ: What merger challenges have you’ve learned from?

Mr. Mackey: Amazon has a culture that asks a lot of questions. We took a little longer to get used to that, but that’s no big deal. That’s how you learn things. They’re trying to understand our business. They want to know everything. And I think that’s healthy.

WSJ: What’s the biggest leadership lesson you’ve adopted from Jeff Bezos?

Mr. Mackey: Amazon wants you to write up a document explaining your ideas, defending them, and then you can have discussions. That’s a practice Whole Foods has adopted. Amazon’s also very data-driven. As opposed to acting from the gut, Amazon says, “Show us the data.” That’s been a good discipline for us. We do it ourselves, even when we’re not talking to Amazon.

For the full interview, see:

Jaewon Kang, interviewer. “BOSS TALK; Rugged Individualism in the Grocery Aisle.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, September 12, 2020): B2.

(Note: ellipses added. In both the print and online versions, “WSJ” and “Mr. Mackey” are bolded, as are the questions asked by Jaewon Kang. The bolding is not visible in the theme used for this blog.)

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date Sep. 11, 2020, and has the title “BOSS TALK; Whole Foods CEO John Mackey Says Many People Are Done With Grocery Stores.”)

The book co-authored by Mackey and mentioned above is:

Mackey, John, Steve Mcintosh, and Carter Phipps. Conscious Capitalism: Elevating Humanity Through Business. New York: Portfolio, 2020.

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