“Frupidity,” the combination of “frugality” and “stupidity,” is becoming a problem for Amazon as the company manages various challenges.
Amazon has 16 leadership principles, according to Business Insider, with frugality being one of them. As the company faces an economic downturn, not to mention its first CEO change in its history, some are making the case that Amazon’s frugality is reaching a stupid level — otherwise known as frupidity.
Former executive Ethan Evans penned a blog post giving examples of the kind of frupidity Amazon seems to be experiencing.
At Amazon, I saw this in person in another way. A very good boss of mine, someone I respect immensely overall, was asked if our team, which had been together over two years and had shipped several products, could get team coffee mugs. At the time, part of the definition of Frugality at Amazon said that we didn’t spend money on T-shirts, which do not help customers. Rather than buck this trend, he bought the coffee mugs with his own money. Whether or not he was Frupid, he was coerced by the culture into an unnatural act. A tight knit, successful team wanted coffee mugs for crying out loud. This is a small, almost trivial cost. It would have been repaid literally 1,000 times if it helped retain or motivate one employee. Once can make the argument, of course, that the lack of corporate swag was a valuable symbol of true frugality. Perhaps you find this argument compelling; I do not.
Unfortunately, such instances appear to be happening in other areas as well. Insider cites an example of an employee who had to drive from Los Angeles to the company’s San Francisco office for a company outing. Rather than being able to take a flight, the employee had to drive — a trip that can take nearly seven hours one way.
Amazon recently missed expectations for its first quarterly results and has struggled to adapt as online spending has started returning to pre-pandemic normals. Like many others, the company has slowed hiring, is looking to offload unneeded warehouse space, and is counting on attrition to trim its headcount by as much as 100,000.
It certainly is not a surprise that frugality is one of Amazon’s leadership principles, especially in the current economic environment. The company does need to be careful, however, that frupidity doesn’t end up costing the company more than common-sense frugality.