‘Less is More’: Netflix Gets It

‘Less is More’: Netflix Gets It

netflix_less_is_more

This is the first time I came across Netflix’s ‘HR Deck’. Turns out it’s actually pretty famous and well spread. Today, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg called the deck ‘the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.’ For those of you haven’t read it, here’s the original copy.

There are many facets of their HR strategy that are worthy of a deep dive. To me, the most intriguing part is their focus on keeping their ‘corporate policy’ as simple as possible. Actually their policies for Expensing, Entertainment,Gifts and Travel is five words: “Act in Netflix’s Best Interests.’ Stunningly simple, right? But what’s not simple is, to achieve this, they need to hire high performance, self-motivated employees. They also need to align them with corporate visions to motivate them, and pay top notch salaries to keep them. What will sound really hard is, in an ever changing tech industry, they need to remain successful and get through all kinds of disruption changes coming their way (like the big change on switching from DVD mailing centric model to an online streaming based strategy).

That comes to the point of this blog: Less is more. They hire less people, but with better performance and more dedication; apply less policy, but rely on more self-discipline and good judgement; less fake promotion (promotion just to keep people from leaving, not due to bigger job), more power and fulfillment on position.

With less, they are trying to achieve more. Does anyone did this before? Yes, Apple! Apple is claimed to be the ‘biggest startup company in the world’. Apple apply similar HR philosophy, flat corporate structure and remain nimble and fast no matter how big the company is.

Can Netflix repeat Apple’s success? Very likely. Because for this model to work, there is one critical condition:

Must be in an industry that value creativity exponentially instead of linearly. 

Only in a creative industry, high caliber talents with creativity are able to generate value many times more than traditional industry. In short, creativity and talent need to scale exponentially on value generation. Only in this case, hiring a smaller group of highly talented people will trump hiring a bigger group of mediocre people. Case in points, movie, music industry.

Is Netflix in the ‘right’ industry? Yes. They are in the media consuming industry, which is undergone a disruptive change from Internet and mobile. Digital media is the future, and the old empire of cable TV is crumbling. People need creative solutions to the new problem of media consuming in digital and mobile age. Need proof? Look no further at the expectation level of new Apple iTV.

So it seems Netflix gets it and are working on getting through some hurdles. We’ll see how things develop in TV and media consuming market and how well Netflix lives up to its own words.

Will Netflix become the next Apple? What do you think?

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