The New York Times bestseller
Shortlisted for the 2020 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year
Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings reveals for the first time the unorthodox culture behind one of the world's most innovative, imaginative, and successful companies
There has never before been a company like Netflix. It has led nothing short of a revolution in the entertainment industries, generating billions of dollars in annual revenue while capturing the imaginations of hundreds of millions of people in over 190 countries. But to reach these great heights, Netflix, which launched in 1998 as an online DVD rental service, has had to reinvent itself over and over again. This type of unprecedented flexibility would have been impossible without the counterintuitive and radical management principles that cofounder Reed Hastings established from the very beginning. Hastings rejected the conventional wisdom under which other companies operate and defied tradition to instead build a culture focused on freedom and responsibility, one that has allowed Netflix to adapt and innovate as the needs of its members and the world have simultaneously transformed.
Hastings set new standards, valuing people over process, emphasizing innovation over efficiency, and giving employees context, not controls. At Netflix, there are no vacation or expense policies. At Netflix, adequate performance gets a generous severance, and hard work is irrelevant. At Netflix, you don’t try to please your boss, you give candid feedback instead. At Netflix, employees don’t need approval, and the company pays top of market. When Hastings and his team first devised these unorthodox principles, the implications were unknown and untested. But in just a short period, their methods led to unparalleled speed and boldness, as Netflix quickly became one of the most loved brands in the world.
Here for the first time, Hastings and Erin Meyer, bestselling author of The Culture Map and one of the world’s most influential business thinkers, dive deep into the controversial ideologies at the heart of the Netflix psyche, which have generated results that are the envy of the business world. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with current and past Netflix employees from around the globe and never-before-told stories of trial and error from Hastings’s own career, No Rules Rules is the fascinating and untold account of the philosophy behind one of the world’s most innovative, imaginative, and successful companies.
Bringing impressive credentials to this riveting business guide, Meyer (The Culture Map), a professor at the INSEAD business school, and Hastings, cofounder and CEO of Netflix, walk readers through the "unique ecosystem" of the streaming giant's corporate culture. They chart Netflix's evolution, drawing from Hastings's personal recollections, excerpts from Meyer's more than 200 interviews with current and past Netflix employees, and selections of company PowerPoint meeting slides, emails, and "culture maps." In order to "connect the dots" and form a coherent picture of Netflix's management style, the coauthors identify the firm's 10 key tenets, beginning with its foundational emphasis on "talent density," and continuing with its "culture of candor." In its quest to be the best, the company has rewritten many long-standing corporate rules, such as by "removing controls," with the elimination of limitations on vacation time, among other measures. Sharing this kind of dramatic evolution requires a dense and info-packed book, but the authors break up the text with helpful end-of-chapter synopses to sum up the takeaways and boxed excerpts from employee interviews. Aspiring tech moguls should flock to Hastings and Meyer's energetic and fascinating account.
Great book for those prioritizing creativity
The principles and topics in this book are interesting but mostly pertain to those who prioritize innovation over rules and systems. In certain industries, the culture described could be detrimental to the companies success. For example, having no rules in a manufacturing environment could lead to product defects and safety concerns. Overall, great book but may not fully apply to all industries.
Good, but not perfect
Generally speaking, I’ve enjoyed reading this book and it contains some useful insights on how to improve a general company culture. Buy it.
However, I’ve took a number of notes of situations that — as far as I am concerned — I struggle to believe as true or even remotely possible.
The book presents itself as the perfect recipe; most likely it works but still, I think it’s far from being perfect.
New ideas to consider
This book showed me that there is different ways that a company can be operated. By lifting restrictions and giving employees more freedom to choose their own choices can lead to responsibility and sense of ownership in the company.