Culture at Netflix

August 18, 2009

I’m in two minds about this slide deck by Netflix – Reference Guide on our Freedom & Responsibility Culture. On the one hand this is one of the most accessible culture documents I’ve seen – i.e. it’s very clear and explicit what they value and what they consider to be appropriate behavior. Someone watching this will get a very good idea of what it will be like to work in Netflix.

It reminds me of Disney’s strategy which is to immerse potential Disney World employees in their culture before they even fill in an application form. They go as far as to inform them what the rules are around make-up, jewelery etc so that they know exactly what they’re getting themselves into before they apply. This has been a successful strategy to ensure that only candidates who’re willing to do things the “Disney” way actually apply for work, so it cuts down considerably on the workload of recruitment personnel.

So, on the positive side, Netflix do make their expectations explicit, and they do appear to take culture seriously. On the other hand, the tone of the deck seems controlling and a bit ruthless. Especially the bits around the performance culture. I’m not sure this is a company I’d want to work for, even with all the “nice” behaviors they value. I dunno … let me know what you think …

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