A Harvard Business Review article titled To See the Future of Competition, Look at Netflix resonates strongly just now. “As more and more of us turn to Netflix for entertainment, the company bears watching as a source of insights about the future of business and work,” writes author Bill Taylor. That seems to apply in the time of quarantine even more than when he wrote it. As the inventor of “binge watching,” Netflix has likely played a larger than usual role in many lives lately.
“Netflix could be the dictionary definition of a Silicon Valley disruptor, a new entrant that reshaped the logic of an entire industry,” says Taylor. “Yet what’s truly remarkable about the company’s trajectory over the last two decades is how dramatically it has disrupted itself in service of its mission.”
This is a time of de facto disruption, so why not use this moment to reflect intentionally and envision future courses of action that create and apply strategic change, not just forced adaptations?
Netflix regularly updates its manifesto on culture. The statement outlines the values to which people in the company are held to account. Taylor summarizes salient, inspiring points:
“Many companies have value statements,” it begins, “but often these written values are vague and ignored. The real values of a firm are shown by who gets rewarded or let go.” So what kind of people get rewarded at Netflix? “You say what you think, when it’s in the best interest of Netflix, even if it is uncomfortable,” the manifesto says. “You are willing to be critical of the status quo” and “You make tough decisions without agonizing.” Moreover, “You are able to be vulnerable, in search of truth.”
Now, while life and work is disrupted anyway, could be a great time to “hit pause” and ask the tough questions that lead to transformative innovation.