Posted by: zyxo | May 16, 2010

Good for the enterprise or good for the employee ?

Recently I saw this presentation about the Netflix culture (wait, it’s 128 slides, first read this post).

What do you think of their seven ‘aspects’ :

  1. Values are what we value. Means : do what your say, say what you do.
  2. High performance. Obvious : you have be productive, deliver what has to be delivered, on time !
  3. Freedom and responsability : they do not hold your hand, you’re a bit on your own but can do it the way you like
  4. context, not control : they say what they want and why, not how you have to do it, procedures are not important
  5. Highly aligned, loosely coupled : No rigid hierarchical structures
  6. Pay top of the market : sounds like sweet music !
  7. Promotions and development : be the best and you get promoted, otherwise you’r fired. You should find your own way to learn and get better

OK, 128 slides summarized in seven sentences is a bit dense, but you should get the point by now.

I am convinced these values are attractive for top-of-the-bill people, who like to work hard, who know they are good at it, who like to have the freedom to work the way they want, when they want (Oh yes,no vacation administration, take as much as you want : it’s up to you, as long as you deliver), where they want and like to earn a lot of money.
Also, it must be inspiring to work with colleagues like that, smart, intelligent, always working to make sure it’s in the best interest for Netflix.

On the other hand, how does all this sound for an average employee (most of us) ? I think there is simply no room for them at Netflix. They have to work for an average company, with an average paycheck, average co-workers, average motivation all around, average risk of the firm going bankrupt, but : lower risk of getting fired, because your colleagues are also average …
Problem : your bosses are also average, which means that the way they treat you is mostly not very motivating.

So after all it comes down to the old survival of the fittest, and the winner takes it all.

Question : why do not all enterprises adopt that culture ? Why do so much enterprises, who ended up in problems as a consequence of the economical crisis, try to crawl out of the pit by cutting down on people ? They must know that the beneficial effect will be very short term and they will pay this lack of investing in people highly some years later.
Perhaps I forget here that for those big shots the only thing that counts are the quarterly results. What the heck do they care about what will happen a few years later ?

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