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Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Netflix

Netflix’s culture manifesto is world-famous. And astonishing, remarkable, or even shocking when you read it without context. But it works. Culture expert Erin Meyer examined it. That’s why we invited her to the Amsterdam Business Forum 2023. She’ll be there! Here are 3 lessons we share in advance, for a culture that attracts top talent like Giethoorn attracts Chinese tourists.

Together with Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer wrote the book “No Rules Rules” about Netflix’s culture of innovation. “You need talent density, candor, and context,” Erin summarizes the key to success. Let us explain.

#1 Talent density: fire your best friend

Performance is contagious. Erin and Reed call this the “rockstar principle”: every team performs as well as its worst employee. If you want the very best team, you fire an average employee. Yes, even if they were a witness at your wedding.

That sounds harsh. But Reed Hastings says, “At Netflix, we’re not a family, but a team.” The more top colleagues within the company, the more freedom you can give. And freedom? That leads to maximum job satisfaction and maximum innovation.

Action: the keeper test. Ask yourself once a year about each employee on your team: if they said today that they have another job, would I try to change their mind?

YES? Clear, this employee is a perfect fit.

MAYBE? It’s time for feedback: what can the employee improve?

NO? Give a generous severance package and find another talent.

#2 Candor: make feedback your superpower

Only candid feedback is valuable. For that, you need frameworks. Because feedback with kid gloves is useless. And the blunt axe leads to a runaway primitive brain (Fear! Flight! Fight!)

Action: the 360-feedback dinner. Organize a dinner with your team members every year. Everyone gives and receives feedback. Do it with the 4A method.

For the feedback giver:

Aim to Assist. You provide feedback not for yourself but to help the other person. So don’t vent your frustrations and don’t deliberately hurt the other person.

Make it Actionable. Give concrete feedback that clearly states what the receiver can do with it. 25% of the feedback can be positive, 75% should be focused on improvement.

For the receiver:

Show Appreciation. Ignore your primitive brain: don’t defend or explain your behavior. Receive the feedback as something valuable. Say thank you.

Choose to Accept or Discard. Listen to the feedback and think about it. Then decide what to do with it. You know which feedback you truly need to act upon.

#3 Context: be a tree, not a pyramid

Let these two sentences sink in:

  1. Freedom leads to innovation.
  2. Processes and protocols kill flexibility.

Exactly. That’s why Netflix sees its organizational structure as a tree. The leaders are the roots: they make the organization strong and provide direction. This allows the branches and leaves to make decisions without asking for permission. Try doing that in a pyramid.

Action: provide context, not control. Set a good example. Toss out your vacation policy, expense protocol, and work-from-home rules. Truly good employees don’t need them. In fact, they thrive on freedom.

One warning though: don’t try this if you make Cessnas, bungee cords, or ready-to-eat baby food.

Want to know more? Mark September 29th on your calendar. Erin Meyer is one of the keynote speakers at the Amsterdam Business Forum 2023

Yes, I want to register!

Table of Contents

Melati Wijsen is a young changemaker from Bali. In terms of personality, she is best characterized as a blend of Greta Thunberg, Bojan Slat and Barack Obama. At the age of only 12 (!) Melati and her sister managed to get single use plastic bags banned in Bali. Melati is the founder and figurehead of Youthtopia, a network of young changemakers around the world. A film about her and this movement launched in 2022: Bigger than Us. Melati is one of those speakers you may not know upfront, but will never forget after September 29.

Glenn de Randamie, better known as Typhoon, will wrap up this seminar. He will take us on a journey to connection, inclusion and fresh perspectives. How can we make even more impact by working together in a better way? How do we ensure that all voices are heard and blend into better decisions? How do we bridge gaps and break barriers? Glenn will share unexpected and valuable lessons about personal leadership, vitality, inclusion and diversity, growing, slowing down, trusting and connecting.

Tim Ferriss is one of the world’s leading experts on leadership, entrepreneurship and personal innovation. He is the author the iconic global bestseller: The 4-Hour-Workweek. He is an early investor in companies such as Uber, Shopify, Duolingo and Alibaba. Tim is on Fast Company’s list of “Most Innovative Business People.” His podcast The Tim Ferriss Show is the world’s most listened-to podcast for entrepreneurs and leaders with over 900 million (!!!) downloads.

“Tim Ferriss is the Oprah of Audio”
(The Observer)

Maryna Saprykina  won the 2023 Speaker contest with her speech: “Sustainability in the Times of War”. 

She is sustainability consultant from Ukraine who has seen the resilience of Ukrainian businesses firsthand.  

Her keynote addressed the role of sustainability in business continuity during times of war.

Britt Breure is Director of HR and CSR at AFAS Software, a unique family company with a strong corporate culture and impressive results. 

AFAS has 600 employees, but only 1 HR employee. That’s Britt. She is also committed to social responsibility and sustainability within AFAS and beyond.

Alix Jacobson is Former Vice President HR EMEA by Netflix. She is a commercially driven international HR executive with an extensive track record of building and sustaining healthy, efficient and high-performing teams.

Alix staunchly believes in company culture as a business driver – A clear and common set of values and behaviors can drive employee performance and team effectiveness, and ultimately business performance.

Douglas Lamont is CEO of Tony’s Chocolonely, joining in October 2022 from innocent drinks where he was CEO for nine years. 

As innocent’s CEO, Douglas put his advocacy for building businesses that balance people, profit and planet into action.

Lilian Geijsen is Managing Director of Ben & Jerry’s Europe, she embodies the company’s mission of delivering high-quality, socially responsible products while making a positive impact on the world.

She is responsible for driving growth while prioritizing social impact across all three parts of the business, including product, economic, and social.

Erin Meyer is a science rockstar in the field of (company) culture. She is professor at INSEAD Business School and she is listed in Thinkers50 the list of best leadership thinkers in the world. Erin’s book The Culture Map became a worldwide bestseller. Her book No Rules Rules, co-authored with Netflix founder Reid Hastings, deconstructs the unique culture that enabled Netflix to grow and become one of the most successful companies on earth. “The most important document to come out of Silicon Valley” (Sheryll Sandberg on the Netflix Culture Manifesto)

Rutger Bregman  is one of Europe’s most prominent young thinkers. The 35-year-old historian and author has been nominated twice for the prestigious European Press Prize for his work at De Correspondent. His articles have been featured in The Washington Post and on the BBC. His book, Human Kind (De Meeste Mensen Deugen) is a worldwide bestseller, with over 1.5 million copies sold and translations in 40 languages.

“Rutger Bregman is the Dutch Wunderkind of new ideas”
(The Guardian)