As soon as I saw the title, I knew this is a book I had to read.


NETFLIX and the Culture of Reinvention



There are 10 chapters which cover the creative workplace culture of Netflix - the highly succesful streaming and film production company.

After having worked in various levels of progressive workplace culture at small and large companies, this book really connected the dots for me.

Here are my notes transferred from my Remarkable tablet (which I’ve fallen in love with)

1. First, build up talent density

  • Your number one goal as leader is to develop a work environment consisting of stunning colleagues
  • Stunning colleagues accomplish significant amounts of important work and are exceptionally creative and passionate
  • Jerks, slackers and sweet people with non stellar performance or pessimists on the team will bring down the performance of everyone

2. Say what you really think (with positive intent)

  • With candour, high performers will become outstanding performers . Frequent candid feedback exponentially magnifies the speed and effectiveness of your work force

  • Set the stage for candour by building feedback moments into your regular meetings
  • Coach your employees to give and receive feedback effectively following the 4A guidelines (live) (Give) )
    • Aim to Assist (Giving)
    • Actionable (Giving)
    • Appreciate (Receiving)
    • Accept or Discard (Receiving)
  • As a leader solicit feedback regularly and respond with belonging cues when you receive
  • Get rid of jerks as you instill a culture of candour

3a. Remove Vacation Policy

  • If you aren’t tracking worked in a day, what is the point tracking days per year?
  • Leaders must model big-vacation taking to set example and precedent to guide employee behaviour
  • Explain there is no need to ask for prior approval and no one is expected to keep track of days away from the office
  • Up to employee to take few hours, days, a week, a month off.
  • Communicate to provide context

3b. Remove travel and expense approvals

  • Remove, and encourage managers to set context about how to spend money up front, and check expenses at the back end. If people overspend, set more context
  • No expense controls mean finance departments must audit annually
  • Fire people that abuse the system but speak about the abuse opening so everyone knows repercussions
  • Costs from overspending aren’t nearly as high as the gains that freedom provides because employees are able to make quick decisions to spend money to help the business.
  • When you tell people you trust them, they will show you how trustworthy they are

4. Pay top of personal market

  • The methods used by most companies to compensate employees are not ideal for a creative high- talent density workforce
  • Divide your workforce ‘into creative and operational. and pay creative workers top of market. This might mean hiring one exceptional instead of 10 adequate people
  • Don’t pay performance-related bonuses and put into salary instead
  • Teach employees to build their own networks and to invest time getting to know their own - and their teams’ - market value on an on- going bases Adjust salaries accordingly

5. Open the books

  • A culture of transparency: No closed offices or assistants as guards
  • Open up books to employees and show how to read Pth accounts. Share sensitive financials
  • Desicions the might affect workforce well-being be opened up early. May cause anxiety but will create trust (which is more valuable)
  • If the transparency is at loggerheads with an individual’s privacy - of info is from a work circumstance, be candid but if not, say it’s not your place to share
  • If you’ve shown yourself to be competent, be open about your own mistakes to increase trust, goodwill, innovation

6. No decision-making approvals needed

  • In a fast, innovative company ownership of big - ticket decision should be dispersed across workforce at different levels, not according hierarchical status.
  • Netflix mantra and the book’s main jacket quote: “Don’t seek to please your boss”
  • When employees join company, tell them they have a handful of metaphorical chips to make bets with. A workers performance is judged on collective outcome of these bets
  • To help good bets encourage staff to farm for dissent socialize the idea and test out the big bets. Teach that if a bet fails it should be ‘sunshined’ openly sharing learnings etc

7. The keeper Test

  • Encourage managers to be tough on performance by asking which of my people, if they told me they were leaving for a similar role, would I fight to keep?’
  • Avoid stack-ranking as they create internal competition. and discourage collaboration
  • ‘Family’ metaphor for workforce isn’t as good as ‘Professional Sports Team’ Teach to instill feelings of . commitment, cohesion , camaraderie
  • When you realize you need to let someone go, a personal improvement plan is humiliating and costly. Instead use money for a generous severance
  • Employees may have fear that their job is on the line, so employees should ask their manager to ask ‘If I was thinking of leaving, how hard would you work to change my mind’
  • When an employee is let go, Speak openly and answer questions candidly. This will diminish their fear of being next and increase trust

8. Max up candour: A circle of trust

  • A thorough live 360/ feedback session every 6- 12 months ensures clear feedback
  • Performance reviews aren’t the best mechanism as can be one -sided and limited to just one person (employee boys
  • A 360 written report is good for annual feedback but don’t link to promotions
  • Use 4A feeback guidelines for live 360 dinners and start, stop, continue method with roughly 25% positive, 75% development with an actionable (no fluff)

9. Lead with context, not control

  • The overall goal should be innovation (not error prevention) and operate in a loosely coupled System
  • To lead with context, you need a high talent density. After this get in lockstep alignment by providing and debating context to enable sound decision - making
  • If a poor decision has been made, don’t blame. Ask what context you failed to communicate.
  • Is everyone highly aligned on vision and objectives ?
  • A loosely coupled organisation should resemble a tree rather than a pyramid. The boss is at the roots, holding up the trunk of senior managers who support the outer branches where decisions are made.
  • These policies, Reed argues do not work for Netflix/a creative engineering culture.
    • Vacation Policies
    • Decision- Making approvals
    • Expense Policies
    • Performance Improvement Glans
    • Approval Processes
    • Raise Pools
    • Key Performance Indicators
    • Management by Objective
    • Travel Policies
    • Decision - Making by Committee
    • Contract Sign offs
    • ay- Grades
    • Pay- per performance Bonuses

10. Going Global

  • Map out corporate culture and compare to the culture you are expanding into
  • In less direct countries, implement more formal feedback mechanisms.
  • Encourage adaptability. Discuss openly what candour means in different parts of world. Work together to adapt