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No Rules Rules by Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings

No Rules Rules by Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings

My Rating of “No Rules Rules” by Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings: 8 / 10

After spending 20+ years in the working globally within multi-national companies, I tend to think I know how they generally operate. I do recognise each organisation has its own DNA, culture and strategy. In my industry (technology) it has its own flavour on culture and performance. For example, the tiered performance hierarchy (think up or out), the high and almighty innovator/entrepreneur and the “we’ll provide you with all the food, services and amenities so that you are 100% focussed on your job” approach to the employees.

No Rules Rules opens up the doors of the Netflix culture. It is a case study on how and why the Netflix’s culture works along with the key ingredients that have made it successful. The format of the book is a back and forth tennis match between Reed Hastings (Netflix CEO & Co-Founder) and Erin Meyer (Professor at INSEAD). I’ve studied with Erin Meyer as part of an INSEAD Executive Education Programme. She is at the top of her game when it comes to organisational culture. See my review Erin’s previous book The Culture Map here. Reed Hastings I don’t know personally however he doesn’t really need an introduction. Hastings provides the Netflix approach and Meyer critiques it based off her background of organisational culture and management.

The No Rules Rules approach makes a lot of sense on paper. In breaking it down, Hastings simply points Netflix’s success to three things. Hire in top talent (no comprises), maximise candour both upwards & downwards and eliminate as much process so that employees can flourish with autonomy. The result is superior innovation and performance.

Meyer interviewed hundreds of past and current employees within the Netflix organisation in order to gain a sound understanding of this approach. Throughout the book many examples are cited on how Netflix hire (and fire) along with providing instant and open feedback. A daily focus is made on maximising candour whilst minimising process (e.g. travel and expenses). I’m surprised these ingredients have worked as this approach can be tough to get right. One must remember that culture takes time to develop within an organisation. Rome, nor Netflix was built in a day.

Like most readers you begin to compare the Netflix approach on organisational dynamics to that of your own organisation. There are many takeaways for me. Plus aspects I will look to incorporate and integrate into the our organisation’s process. Whilst there are limitations to changing many things, there are approaches and aspects of the Netflix culture that anyone can leverage within their own organisation.

Three key takeaways from the book:

  1. Alignment is a tree not a pyramid.
  2. Hire the best talent, increase candour (upwards/downloads) and eliminate process to drive the maximal performance/innovation.
  3. Although many leadership and organisational culture experts (including Meyer before writing this book) would reject this approach on paper, it actually works for Netflix. There is a lesson in that for everyone.