Imagine if every person [you worked with] is someone you respect and learn from ... In creative work, the best are x10 better than the average ... [A] great workplace [is made] of stunning colleagues.Reed also makes a great point about how to organize large companies, saying he prefers to align groups on goals and strategies while minimizing meetings over tactics. He contrasts this with "tightly-coupled monoliths" where everything is inefficiently controlled (usually from the top down) and "independent silos" where groups (e.g. engineering and marketing) work so independently that "alienation and suspicion" creep in.
Responsible people thrive on freedom and are worthy of freedom ... [They are] self-motivating, [pick] up the trash lying on the floor, [and behave] like an owner ... Our model is to increase employee freedom as we grow rather than limit it ... Avoid chaos as you grow with ever more high performance people, not with rules.
Pay at the top of the market is core to high performance culture. One outstanding employee gets more done and costs less than two adequate employees ... We pay at the top of the market ... Give people big salaries ... no bonuses ... no stock options ... [and a] great health plan ... [Everyone feels] they are getting paid well relative to their other options ... Nearly all ex-employees will take a step down in comp for their next job.
We try to get rid of rules when we can .... The Netflix vacation tracking policy [is that] there is no policy or tracking. There also is no clothing policy at Netflix, but no one has come to work naked lately ... Netflix policy for expensing ... [is] five words long ... "act in Netflix's best interest" ... You don't need detailed policies for everything.
There are some suggestions I disagree with. First, I think Reed's claim that Netflix should fire with "generous severance" people who managers would not "fight hard to keep at Netflix" if they were to threaten to leave conflicts with Reed's later advice that managers should not blame someone who "does something dumb" but rather ask themselves what "context [the manager] failed to set." Personally, when someone I manage is not doing well, I blame myself, not them, and I think Reed should have emphasized finding people the right challenge rather than suggesting just giving them the boot.
Second, I think Reed's advice to push new software to the website every two weeks is not nearly frequent enough -- I prefer at least daily -- and I also see this as at odds with his later claim that he wants "rapid innovation", "excellent execution", and "to be big and fast and flexible".
But, overall, a great presentation with excellent food for thought. It is a must-read for anyone thinking about how to use organizational culture to help manage a company, from little startups to bloated corporate empires.
Please see also my old 2006 post, "Management and incentives at Google", that discusses Google's corporate culture.
[Netflix slides found via Ruben Ortega, TechCrunch, and Hacking Netflix]
Update: Scott Berkun has some good thoughts on the slide deck, including nice references to Zappos' "pay to quit" idea and the "Lefferts law of management".