Friday, November 12, 2010

Amway's Flawed 'Forever Pin' Practice

As I’ve chronicled around the Net over the past few years, there are many aspects of the Amway Business that I greatly appreciate and admire.

However, I have never been a fan of the Corporation’s practice that once you achieve a certain level of success in the business, you retain that title for the rest of your life. This is regardless of whether you maintain that level or drop off the face of the Earth.

Until yesterday, I had never seen anything in print about their practice. And now that Amway has explained the reasoning, in writing, my disappointment has deepened.

Over at a new blog, Amway Answers, here’s how the rationale is explained:

“In a way, we liken it to someone who has won an Oscar earned a Nobel Prize or even a Master of Business Administration degree. Similar to the presidency, these titles aren’t stripped away the year after new winners are chosen or a person graduates and no longer attends classes. It’s an achievement that stays with one for a lifetime.”

Comparing building a business to earning a degree is missing the boat. I can study the Amway Business, any business, and know it on a theoretical level, just as I studied my field for my college degree. But as we all know: There is a big difference between knowing and doing.

The other comparisons make no sense because with the Presidency, the Oscar winner, and a Nobel Prize recipient, it is understood that it’s only for a moment in time. In those worlds, there is only one slot to fill each year/term. Not so in the Amway Business.

If you are going to use that type of criteria, then Amway would need to say, “Diamond, 2005” or “Emerald, 1999-2008,” as examples.

“Allowing Amway distributors to earn – and keep – their pins is a form of non-monetary leadership recognition.”

This is a description of positional leadership--the lowest level of leadership. Positional leadership is used to describe the “Do as I say because I’m the boss, I have the title, I outrank you” way of leading. It is not true, influential leadership. It is the antithesis of how successful, long-term, pass-the-torch, Amway Businesses are built.

“It shows others what they, too, can achieve.”

Most people in and outside the world of Amway are under the mistaken impression that if someone is called a Ruby, then they currently have a Ruby business. If they have been referred to as a Diamond for the last 20 years, then they have had a Diamondship for 20 years.

So because of this Flawed Forever Pin Practice (F2P2), distributors have a distorted picture of what “achievement” means.

"People who’ve reached these levels of recognition are qualified to teach and inspire others to do the same.”

To do the same… what? Under Amway’s F2P2, one has to maintain a certain level for a mere six months to garner a life-long title.

I can understand a grace period of a year or maybe even two. But a Diamond, or any pin status, being conferred upon someone forever, without any timeline clarification, is disingenuous. If Amway were transparent on this topic, most of the bad business practices would go away.

Having so much attention placed on only achieving a pin:

*diminishes the integrity of that pin.

*makes asking “Are you a currently qualified Diamond, Emerald, Ruby?” seem disrespectful, with a don’t-ask-don’t-tell vibe to it.

* allows some currently non-qualifying pins, who are maintaining the illusion of being a current such-and-such to persist in deception. And their (positional) leadership with their organization is bad.

Bad for the people in their organization, bad for Amway, and bad for distributors who are upfront about their current level of achievement.

*has a chilling effect on those distributors who want to be honest. As an example, if I say something about my business, I am also saying something about my Upline’s business. If I give details about my current qualification, then I am (since my Upline’s pin level is based on my pin level) also revealing details about my Upline’s business.

*leads to some unstable “strategies” distributors have come up with in building their businesses simply to hit a high pin once, in order to achieve a coveted title.

*places undue and unhealthy emphasis on recognition rather than on things that should matter in a business, like profit and long-term income.

I’d rather have a stable Rubyship for decades, than a Diamondship that spans only a few years. But with the F2P2, Amway, intentionally or not, has trained us all to value the Diamond over the Ruby—regardless of their respective stability. And in doing so, Amway is damaging the DNA necessary for its long-term viability.


ajgannon said...

I've been around long enough to figure out that not all of the people in my support team are currently qualified at their recognized pin level. The TEAM exodus and other issues have fragmented my support team significantly over the last few years, so I tend to be forgiving regarding the F2P2 practice. As long as a leader is active in the business, is there to help me, and gives me what I find to be useful counsel, I don't mind that he's not a real "Diamond". That said, I do understand your point, and I'm likely to lean towards your side of the argument.

rocket said...

Agreed. That is a good post. I share your opinion.

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