At Netflix, no one comes to work naked

Netflix Culture ValleyFacebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg paid a remarkable compliment recently to Netflix for its public sharing of Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility. In GQ magazine, Sandberg went so far as to say that their PowerPoint, “…may well be the most important document ever to come out of the valley.” Those are enormous words from an important voice, so it’s worth a look into what she’s talking about.

It explains why no one comes to work naked and some other great questions.

Netflix culture

When you look through their slides (slideshare at the end of this article), what stands out is how Netflix stands out. Yes, you read that right. Netflix takes pains to say that they’re not like everyone else. Here are some favorites:

  • Actual company values are the behaviors and skills that are valued in fellow employees
  • Imagine if every person at Netflix is someone you respect and learn from. They call that Stunning Employees.
  • Adequate performance gets a generous severance package. They ask who’d they’d fight to keep.
  • Internal cutthroat behavior is rare and not tolerated. More talent = more growth…no need to squabble for jobs.
  • No tolerance for jerks…even brilliant jerks.
  • …and one of my favorites: “In procedural work, the best people are 2x the average. In creative work, the best are 10x the average.
  • Responsible people thrive on freedom and are worthy of it
  • Avoid chaos as you grow with ever more high performance people, not with rules
  • There are “Good” versus “Bad” processes (great slide 63)
  • There is no policy or tracking of vacation…nor is there a clothing policy and no one comes to work naked
  • The expense policy is to ‘act in Netflix’s best interest’
  • Good decisions come from knowing context and not control. Leaders establish context for their people to make decisions.
  • Titles are not helpful. No one cares what you call yourself.

and my personal favorite:

  • The best career planning is to surround people with Stunning People

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Categories: Leadership

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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5 Comments on “At Netflix, no one comes to work naked”

  1. February 8, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    Jeanne, thanks for sharing this. I think this is pretty amazing stuff.

    As a process guy, though, it took me back a bit, and I’d love to hear some comment from the rest of the #process folks that follow this blog.

    Netflix basically said most process is bad because as you grow, it stifles the organization and employees. I believe they are right in their examples. Organizations focus on process to reduce errors and increase efficiency. The get really lean and focused, which is good until there is a market shift.

    Process folks, how do we ensure the flexibility in our processes to react and help manage chaos vs. restrict and stifle?

  2. M.
    February 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Don’t have time for 126 slides right now but wonder why you had to title your comments in the manner you did when it would appear so many other truly important values are in place.

    • February 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      Not sure if I understand your comment. Catchy titles are the norm and it relates directly to one of their policies…

  3. February 10, 2013 at 1:59 am #

    @ron For me the leitmotif within this document is the objective of Netflix to deliver employee freedom in order to maximise the effectiveness of high performers. From a process perspective this is entirely consistent, or at least should be, with the objectives of BPM and Case Management platforms which are to automate mundane or repetitive processes and support the decision making of key employees or knowledge workers.

  4. February 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Good havens, I quit after 70 pages and I’m usually interested in this stuff. Imagine an employee trying to process all that stuff in the middle of interviewing someone. It has always seemed to me that value isn’t measured in pages, it’s measured by conciseness. With all those values to keep in mind, I suppose it’s pretty easy to fire someone for not following the values statement, there’s got to be something they missed, see you latter.

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