No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention Hardcover – Illustrated, September 8, 2020
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“Hastings, CEO and cofounder of Netflix, and Meyer, a business professor at INSEAD, team up to explore the organizational cultures, successes, and lessons learned within Netflix. . . taking turns throughout the book to explain a situation or practice. This format feels conversational, and makes the book very easy to follow. . . Informative, thought provoking, and down-to-earth.” —Booklist
"In alternating sections with Meyer, who provides elaboration based on more than 200 Netflix interviews, Hastings details the making of the Netflix way, from hiring the best creative talent at high pay to increasing candor through frequent feedback and gradually removing controls that stifle innovation. . . Fascinating story of a counterintuitive approach that apparently works." —Kirkus Reviews
"A fascinating analysis of Netflix. . . Highly recommended for leaders eager to build innovative, fast, and flexible teams." —Library Journal, starred review
"Aspiring tech moguls should flock to Hastings and Meyer’s energetic and fascinating account." —Publishers Weekly
“I had the privilege of learning from Reed personally and studying the Netflix culture. The insights in this book are invaluable to anyone trying to create and sustain organizational culture.” —Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
“As the information age shrinks product cycles and compresses time frames, the most important business question of our era is, How do we keep innovating? In this breakthrough book, Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer provide the answer. They lay out a proven, systematic methodology for building, maintaining, and enhancing a highly innovative global culture. It is an amazing piece of work. Bravo!”—Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz
“Reed Hastings learned early what it takes to build an enduring great company. Here in No Rules Rules, he and Erin Meyer teach the culture that propelled Netflix into one of the most distinctive and impactful companies on the planet. Packed with vivid specifics, they illustrate how Hastings melded a spicy concoction into a framework of freedom and responsibility. Well-written and fast-paced, timeless and timely, inspired and practical, smart and wise—read it and learn the Netflix secret sauce from the master himself!”—Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, co-author of Built to Last and Beyond Entrepreneurship
“Forget reinventing television; Reed Hastings' real achievement is reinventing corporate culture, and in No Rules Rules, Reed reveals all the tactics and processes that he’s used to make Netflix one of the 21st century’s most innovative companies. Clear, compelling, fascinating, and (for a book about Netflix), appropriately binge-worthy, No Rules Rules is the book I wish I had read when I was starting out, and it’s the book I’ll be giving to every CEO I work with. It’s simply a must-have for any business leader.”—Marc Randolph, Netflix co-founder and author of That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea
“Netflix’s unique culture of freedom and responsibility and its flexibility to adapt are fueling its remarkable rise around the world. In No Rules Rules, Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer reveal the fascinating story of Netflix success, while providing actionable lessons for leaders on how to attract top talent and unleash their creative energies to drive excellence.”—Susan E. Rice, former U.S. national security adviser and permanent representative to the United Nations
About the Author
Erin Meyer is the author of The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business and a professor at INSEAD, one of the world’s leading international business schools. Her work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, and Forbes.com. In 2019, Meyer was selected by the Thinkers50 as one of the fifty most influential business thinkers in the world. She received an MBA from INSEAD in 2004, and she currently lives in Paris, France. In 1994 and 1995 Meyer also served in the Peace Corps as a volunteer teacher in southern Africa. Visit erinmeyer.com for more information.
- Publisher : Penguin Press; Illustrated edition (September 8, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1984877860
- ISBN-13 : 978-1984877864
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.35 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #24,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, talks the leadership philosophy that underpins the culture at Netflix: Creating people talent density, an environment of candor, and empowering employees through decentralized decision making versus restrictive controls.
Is it insightful? 5 Stars
Great insight on how to attract and retain the best people and compensate them based on market value versus internal controls, i.e. salary bands, trust them to make decisions on how to do their job, hold them accountable for great performance, and openly learn from failure and share the lessons learned with the rest of the organization.
Is it creative? 4 Stars
At end of each chapter there is a summary of key points to underscore the most important take-aways. Each chapter builds upon the prior chapter to demonstrate how each of the nine “dots” connect to create the empowered culture.
Is the well written? 4 Stars
Each chapter contains an explanation of what happens at Netflix by Hastings then some leadership philosophy by Meyer. Book uses numerous references where someone other than Hastings or Meyer was speaking. I found it confusing at times where I thought Hastings was speaking then discovered it was someone else. Would have helped if quotes from others were in italics or quotation marks were used.
Is it a page turner? 5 Stars
Each leadership point logically builds upon prior points made. As example, if you’re going to remove controls you first need a high-performance workforce capable of making decisions in the best interest of the company. What also struck me from the philosophy is the importance of the person at the top not just supporting it but living and breathing it. If there’s going to be decentralized decision making without governing policies then that needs to be true for an entire organization, not just a department within an organization. A mid-level manager reading the book would not be able to implement many of the concepts in the book on his or her own; it needs to start with the CEO and permeate through the organization.
Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer have actually written two books in one. One book is “NO RULES” and the other is Netflix and the culture of reinvention. The combination is powerful as Reed shares experiences and stories and Erin puts them in a broader context. This keeps the book from becoming preachy.
This book is recommended, but not for the reasons one might think.
Read this book as a leader, because it is possible to create a level of these results within the scope of your team. This is a book for leaders who want to understand how they can attract and create high performance by adopting these ideas where possible.
Reading this book from an organizational transformation point of view, frankly, is futile and hopeless for one simple reason. Your company is not a high talent density company. That is the essential, foundational and core reason for NETFLIX’s success – they have, hire, keep and constantly upgrade their talent. Becoming a high talent dense company requires living the following actions that are the foundation of the book:
• You build up talent tensity by creating a workforce of high performers
• You introduce candor by encouraging loads of feedback
• You remove controls such as vacation, travel and expense policies
• You strengthen talent density by paying top of the market, always
• You increase candor by emphasizing organizational transparency
• You release more controls such as decision-making approvals
• You max-up talent density by implementing the Keeper Test
• Max-up Candor by creating circles of feedback
• Eliminate most controls by leading with context and note control
These seem like normal empowerment related topics. Beware the book talks about how NETFIX embodies them to a degree that makes them all but impossible for the vast majority of companies – like 98%. Many will read this book and pay lip service to these principles, some CHRO’s will stand up and say that they are a talent dense company, but these are aspirational at best and insincere at the other end of spectrum.
High-density talent is the core of NETFLIX and its ability to execute these strategies effectively. They are good, not because they have good people, they are NETFLIX because they work hard to always have the BEST PEOPLE. There is no average at NETFLIX, all are way above average when they are there and when they fall back to average – “adequate performance gets a generous severance package.”
The selected quotes from the book demonstrate the centrality of high talent density to the company and anyone seeking to adopt these ideas.
“We learned that a company with really dense talent is a company everyone wants to work for. High performers especially thrive in environments where the overall talent density is high.” Page 7.
“We’d found a way to give our high performers a little more control over their lives, and that control made everybody feel a little freer: because of our high-talent density, our employees were already conscientious and responsible.” Page 54.
“Once you have a workforce made up of nearly exclusively of high performers, you can count on people to behave responsibly.” Page 69.
“Dispersed decision-making can only work with high talent density and unusual amounts of organizational transparency. Without these elements, the entire premise backfires.” P. 131.
“One of the reasons this (high density) is so difficult is many companies is because business leaders are continually telling their employees, ‘we are a family.’ But a high-talent-density work environment is not a family.” Page 166.
“At Netflix, I want each manager to run her department like the best professional teams, working to create strong feelings of commitment, cohesion and camaraderie, while continually making tough decision to ensure the best player is manning each post.” Page 169.
“Leading with context won’t work unless you have the right conditions in place. And the first prerequisite is high talent density.” Page 201.
Overall the book is well worth your time. Its entertaining, eminently readable and enlightening. It contains a number of ideas that will become organizational and leadership buzzwords in the future.
Just read it with the caveat that very few companies have the capacity or true desire to put these ideas into practice at the organizational level.
Top reviews from other countries
It just turned out to be a slow read. I read three fourths and had to just give up. Not a fun read at all.
I guess I was hoping for ‘The Story of Netflix’ but this is very much a management book. Not bad but if you know the culture already then you won’t learn much.
I wrote a detailed summary in Chinese of “No Rules Rules” by Netflix CEO Hastings and Prof. Meyer. In just one day half a million have clicked it. Over a thousand commented and re-blogged it. Too bad Netflix does not even operate in China (Beijing’s insecurity).
In China, “our HR management is light years behind”, many say. What struck them most are: (1) in a knowledge economy, flexibility and freedom are key for innovation and success. The idea of “informed captains” is attractive. (2) Hastings spends hundreds of hours a year talking to many staff, but bosses of a typical Chinese company isolate themselves. Too many executives spend too much time with customers and regulators. They are too busy to speak with even direct reports. Smart executives know the importance of managing employees but few are as meticulous and systematic as Hastings.
At UBS, we hated 360-degree performance reviews. But Netflix made them work. Extreme candour at Netflix sounds good, but I haven’t seen a firm practise it.
Skeptics ask, “is it possible Netflix has succeeded despite its low-rule management?” But how do we analyse causality? “A randomised controlled study”?