Not Loving Netflix's No Rules Rules

Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings attributes Netflix's innovation and flexibility to the organization's culture built on Freedom and Responsibility. If you're looking to create a similar culture at your organization there are a few key components: talent density and candor. Once you've built up a team at the top of their field and created a culture of candid feedback, then leaders are encouraged to remove the controls and empower their employees.

I liked the joint authoring of the chapters. I appreciated how it clearly noted when the narrator changed between Meyer and Hastings. Meyer brought a balanced perspective as someone outside the Netflix culture. The book was more relatable when Meyer was there to be a reality check on Reed's portrayal of the Netflix culture.

In theory, a culture built on Freedom and Responsibility sounds like the ideal workplace for most knowledge workers. Still, there are a number of tactics that Netflix employs that could easily become toxic with the wrong individuals. For example, with The Keeper Test Hasting encourages managers to let go of any employee they wouldn't fight hard to keep. It's definitely a recipe for top-tier talent, but it sounds incredibly nerve-wracking. Netflix uses live team 360 reviews as a way to enforce its culture of candor, but the idea of both giving and receiving constructive criticism in front of the entire team is intimidating. I agree that these are powerful tools with the right psychologically safe team, but they could be incredibly toxic with the wrong individuals.

The ideas of the book I found incredibly interesting even if I didn't want to directly employ them, but the repetitive nature of the structure became boring and redundant. Each of the book's three main sections covers the same basic components (talent density, candor, freedom) but at different levels. By the time I was reading the last major section of the book, it felt like everything valuable about the philosophy had already been addressed in previous chapters.

Overall, I liked this book but there were a number of chapters that I found downright underwhelming. The end of the book began to feel redundant with earlier chapters. The tactics were interesting to discuss in theory although I doubt the applicability of some. I recommend picking up Radical Candor instead of this one.