The behemoth which is Netflix may be known as a global streaming video superstar, bringing entertainment to millions of customers, yet what is possibly lesser known is their eloquent and insightful company core values.
Founded in 1997, Netflix has over 62 million members in over 50 countries enjoying more than 100 million hours of TV shows and movies per day.
In August 2009, Netflix Founder & CEO, Reed Hastings published a 124-page slide deck, entitled “Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility” which quickly became viral and set the tone for many Silicon Valley startups.
It has been credited with many discussions around company culture, and has been analysed by many with a number of reviews stating that it was revolutionary at the time.
So who is Reed Hastings?
Reed co-founded Netflix in 1997. With a background in starting software companies, Reed is also a board member of Facebook, and was on the board of Microsoft from 2007 to 2012. Reed received a BA from Bowdoin College in 1983, and an MSCS in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University in 1988.
He is an eloquent speaker and has been credited for the company values and culture that still exists today at Netflix.
In a 2014 interview with Stanford Graduate School of Business, Hastings said “You have to fight the idea that as you get bigger, the culture gets worse. At Netflix, we’re significantly better [than we were] because we have more brains thinking about the problem. If you have 1,000 really thoughtful people thinking about how to improve, you’ll make a lot more progress than if you have 100,”
“Real company values are the behaviors and skills that we particularly value in fellow employees”
– Reed Hastings
Each of the Netflix company values contained within the slide deck has 4 short defining statements that all start with ‘You…” to provide clarity to his employees. They are;
Netflix Company Values
- You make wise decisions (people, technical, business, and crea<ve) despite ambiguity
- You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
- You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do
- You smartly separate what must be done well now, and what can be improved later
- You listen well, instead of reacting fast, so you can better understand
- You are concise and articulate in speech and writing
- You treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you
- You maintain calm poise in stressful situations
- You accomplish amazing amounts of important work
- You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you
- You focus on great results rather than on process
- You exhibit bias‐to‐action, and avoid analysis‐paralysis
- You learn rapidly and eagerly
- You seek to understand our strategy, market, subscribers, and suppliers
- You are broadly knowledgeable about business, technology and entertainment
- You contribute effectively outside of your specialty
- You re‐conceptualize issues to discover practical solutions to hard problems
- You challenge prevailing assumptions when warranted, and suggest better approaches
- You create new ideas that prove useful
- You keep us nimble by minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify
- You say what you think even if it is controversial
- You make tough decisions without excessive agonizing
- You take smart risks
- You question actions inconsistent with our values
- You inspire others with your thirst for excellence
- You care intensely about Netflix’ success
- You celebrate wins
- You are tenacious
- You are known for candor and directness
- You are non‐poli<cal when you disagree with others
- You only say things about fellow employees you will say to their face
- You are quick to admit mistakes
- You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than best for yourself or your group
- You are ego‐less when searching for the best ideas
- You make time to help colleagues
- You share information openly and proactively
Values reinforced in hiring, in 360 reviews, at comp review, in exits, and in promotions
– Netflix Culture
As you can see, these aspirational statements and values are not just cubicle fodder; they are something that Netflix takes very seriously.
The slides go on to illustrate that the culture at Netflix does not value process adherence – it values freedom, responsibility, innovation, and self-discipline. It values context and not control.
Great workplace is not day‐care, espresso, health benefits, sushi lunches, nice offices, or big compensation, and we only do those that are efficient at attracting stunning colleagues.
Netflix believes that by setting a few rules, high performing, responsible staff can creatively respond to opportunities, recover from the few mistakes they make, and continue the company’s growth and innovation.
The slide deck also reveals that there is no room for “good performers.” Adequate performance will get an employee – at any level – “cut from the team,” to make room for a star in that role.
The entire Netflix company values and culture slide deck, which has been viewed over 11.5 million times, can be seen in its entirety, over on Reed’s slideshare account.
The interview with Hastings referred to at the start of this article can be seen over at this Insights by Stanford Business article, which also features a video interview.