Review of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Revolution by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

This book is an interesting read on the company culture of Netflix, how it has evolved, what makes it different, and also what makes it vulnerable. The book is co-written by Reed Hastings, the Chairman and CEO of Netflix, and Erin Meyer, a cultural psychologist and author of The Culture Map, whose contributions trade back and forth.

The bulk of the book focuses on three core themes of Netflix’s corporate culture.

  • Talent density and a focus on recruiting (and rewarding) quality rather than quantity of staff
  • Candor or a focus on an open culture where people say what they really think (while keeping positive)
  • Removing controls or trusting staff to make their own decisions on issues like vacations and travel (as long as they act in the company’s interests)

These themes are summarized as a culture of ‘freedom and responsibility’. The book gets most interesting for me in. the final section where the concept of cultural differences (Meyer’s expertise) is introduced. While Netflix are working to understand how to manage such differences.

This discussion exposes that Netflix’s culture is very much an American culture and very different to Brazil, Japan and Singapore where the company has regional centres (Netherlands is a relatively closer to US). Netflix have worked hard to adapt to other cultures, especially in the area of candor and giving feedback which is perhaps the biggest cultural challenge for them. It will be interesting to see if they can adapt enough to make the Netflix culture work everywhere.


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