Culture According To Netflix

I can't remember how I found it...but this presentation about the "Freedom & Responsibility Culture" at Netflix from CEO Reed Hastings is pretty amazing.

Netflix doesn't seem like the ideal workplace for everyone...and that is precisely the point. It certainly sets the bar for me in terms of the company that I just birthed and the company I hope to build.

Also - you can take my commentary with a grain of salt. I haven't worked for an "organization" since May 2007...and that company was a late-stage 25-person software start-up.

A few of my favorite nuggets, all quoted/editorialized directly from the presentation:

Real company values are reflected in who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go. So true. Actions are way more important than granite-carved words in the lobby. Despite what they may say - your employees want more money and more recognition. Volunteer days, birthday parties, quirky events, Hawaiin-shirt-day, etc are nice and important - but only cosmetic reflections of a culture.

Adequate performance gets a generous severance package. Fear as a motivating factor? I don't hink so. Iron sharpening iron. A players want to work with other A players.

We're a team, not a family. This is probably borderline inflammatory for some, but I dig it. I've had the good fortune of working with tons of people that I like. But I've had very very very few co-workers that I love/respect as family - same for just about everyone, I'm sure. So why not just drop the lip service?

We're like a pro sports team, not a kids recreational team. Hilarious and spot on in so many ways.

Our model is to increase employee freedom as we grow. This is the most ambitious statement in the entire document. Certainly a worthwhile ideal, but only doable with A+ players throughout the organization. Not just at the management level.

Avoid chaos as you grow with ever move high performing people, not with rules. See above.

Netflix Vacation Policy - There is no vacation policy. Focus on what gets done. Not necessarily when and how.

One outstanding employee gets more done and costs less than two adequate employees. Yes, yes, yes. Salary/benefits are the obvious new-hire costs, but the secondary costs are just as important. One bad seed or one lazy colleague or simply an "average" performer can create all kinds of productivity, teamwork, and culture challenges.

Give people big salaries and the freedom to spend as they think best. Variable compensation is extremely motivating and an absolute necessity for some roles - ie sales. However, if you're running a Netflix-type org - A+ players, freedom, competition - then straight salary makes the most sense.

Individuals should manage their own career paths and not rely on a corporation for planning their careers. If I were Jeff Fischer - the Director of Career Management at Kenan-Flagler - or Shawn Graham - Director of Career Management at Pitt Katz - I would have this tatooed to my forehead.