The Netflix Culture

The Netflix Culture from Reed Hastings is must-read material.  I happen to think Netflix is excellent at transforming itself and staying competitive.  Imagine how difficult it would be to change your successful DVD mail-order business model into a streaming model in about 18 months, into an original content provider in less than a year.  I haven't worked at too many places that can adjust and move that quickly.  Others may disagree.  

Here is some good rhetoric and hyperbole on the presentation just in case you think I may be biased.  I point this out this presentation, 3 years late, because so many people have not seen it.  There is a lot of really good concepts that are worthwhile incorporating into your company's culture.  Here are some highlights:

  • Slide 44-52...discusses why companies become bureaucratic and stifle innovation as they grow larger.  New processes are brought in to manage the growth and chaos that ensues, and usually the processes will show short-term benefits as mistakes are solved and the company becomes efficient.  However, flexibility and innovation suffer and high-performing "creative-innovative" talent (the high-performers) start to leave.  A market shift will eventually happen and the company will no longer be able to adapt its business and will begin to lose market share as newer, innovative companies begin to gain that share.  The company will become efficient but not flexible.  This is exacerbated by the loss of the "creative-innovative" high-performers.   I know that I have seen these symptoms in placed I have worked and definitely agree with the causes as outlined.  
  • Slide 62 covers the "safety-critical" vs the "creative-inventive" model.  I firmly agree that it is sometimes cheaper to create an error and fix it than worry about preventing the error in the first place.  It is entrepreneurial risk.  This is the Rapid Recovery Model.  I know I like to tell people to "not let the perfect be the enemy of the good." 
  • Slide 83..."Managers:  When one of your talented people does something dumb, don't blame them.  Instead, ask yourself what context you failed to set".  I've written about this in the past.  
  • Slide 123:  "We want people to manage their own carer growth and not rely on a corporation for 'planning' their careers."  How true.