2020 Readings // No Rules Rules or the story behind NETFLIX’ success.

During the second lockdown in Austria I had enough time to go through one of the books that I bought for myself and whose purpose was to improve my German language skills. Getting to understand the job market nowadays is and will always be a topic worth investing hours into. Things are chaning very fast and the mindsets and demands are different from one corner of the world to another.

While trying to look for various topics to entertain me and enable my fast, correct and fluent German, I saw Reed Hastings’ book on what makes Netflix successful. I bought it, curious to see if I can stay focused and go through the hundreds of pages put together by Reed and Erin Meyer, the author of the famous book “The Culture Map”.

While bringing a revolution in the entertainment industries and trying to reinvent itself with every new trend, Netflix managed to become one of the most used streaming network and combined original series with external ones.

It all started in 1998 when Reed started the online DVD rental service, because once he forgot to return a DVD on time and had to pay a very big fine. Over the time, the industry has changed again and again and as Reed is saying, what really helped the business survive was the overall culture of freedom and responsibility. this is a result of the 9 connecting dots he refers to in the book and are also graphically illustrated in the picture below.

While presenting small case studies, Reed explains why he decided to go for an approach or another, which benefits it brought to the business and how he decided to enable a competitive culture in his company by always firing the weakest employees – The Keepers Test. By keeping standards high and very talented people inside and increasing transparency and candor via feedback sessions, Reed aimed to reduce controls.

He lied a strong emphasis on innovation and enabled his employees to work through context, rather than controls. Also, whoever wanted to take more days off while finishing with the workload before the deadline was free to do so.

The culture candid feedback is what makes Netflix a bit different versus other companies. While keeping people stressed about the next feedback round, it also pushes the employees to speak up in a nice way about their colleagues and show them where they are wrong.

The book is full with interviews with current and past Netflix employees, written in a double perspective by Reed and Erin, together with Reed’s failures and the attitude of his colleagues in assuming that he was always doing the right thing. I can recommend the book, it has fresh insights and shows the entertainment industry from an inside perspective.