July 20, 2023

TPL Insights #180 – Understanding the Why Behind Netflix-Its Mission, Values, and Screaming Success Part 1

By Rob Andrews

By Rob Andrews with italicized content from Netflix

In Netflix’s own words: Entertainment, like friendship, is a fundamental human need; it changes how we feel and gives us common ground. Netflix is better entertainment at lower cost and greater scale than the world has ever seen. We want to entertain everyone, and make the world smile. This document is about Netflix’s unusual employee culture.

Like all great companies, we strive to hire the best and we value integrity, excellence, respect, inclusivity, and collaboration. What is special about Netflix, though, is how much we:

  1. encourage independent decision-making by employees
  2. share information openly, broadly, and deliberately
  3. are extraordinarily candid with each other
  4. keep only our highly effective people
  5. avoid rules

Our core philosophy is people over process. More specifically, we have great people working together as a dream team. With this approach, we are a more flexible, fun, stimulating, creative, collaborative and successful organization.

Real Values

Many companies have value statements, but often these written values are vague and ignored. The real values of a firm are shown by who gets rewarded or let go. Below are our values, the specific behaviors and skills we care about most. The more these values sound like you, and describe people you want to work with, the more likely you will thrive at Netflix.


  1. You make wise decisions despite ambiguity
  2. You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
  3. You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do
  4. You are good at using data to inform your intuition
  5. You make decisions based on the long term, not near term


  1. You are concise and articulate in speech and writing
  2. You listen well and seek to understand before reacting
  3. You maintain calm poise in stressful situations to draw out the clearest thinking
  4. You adapt your communication style to work well with people from around the world who may not share your native language
  5. You provide candid, helpful, timely feedback to colleagues


  1. You learn rapidly and eagerly
  2. You contribute effectively outside of your specialty
  3. You make connections that others miss
  4. You seek to understand our members around the world, and how we entertain them
  5. You seek alternate perspectives


  1. You say what you think, when it’s in the best interest of Netflix, even if it is uncomfortable
  2. You make tough decisions without agonizing
  3. You take smart risks and are open to possible failure
  4. You question actions inconsistent with our values
  5. You are able to be vulnerable, in search of truth


  1. You inspire others with your thirst for excellence
  2. You care intensely about our members and Netflix‘s success
  3. You are tenacious and optimistic
  4. You are quietly confident and openly humble


  1. You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than what is best for yourself or your group
  2. You are open-minded in search of great ideas
  3. You make time to help colleagues
  4. You share information openly and proactively


  1. You create new ideas that prove useful
  2. You re-conceptualize issues to discover solutions to hard problems
  3. You challenge prevailing assumptions, and suggest better approaches
  4. You keep us nimble by minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify
  5. You thrive on change


  1. You collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures
  2. You nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions
  3. You are curious about how our different backgrounds affect us at work, rather than pretending they don’t affect us
  4. You recognize we all have biases, and work to grow past them
  5. You intervene if someone else is being marginalized


  1. You are known for candor, authenticity, transparency, and being non-political
  2. You only say things about fellow employees that you say to their face
  3. You admit mistakes freely and openly
  4. You treat people with respect regardless of their status or disagreement with you


  1. You accomplish amazing amounts of important work
  2. You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you
  3. You make your colleagues better
  4. You focus on results over process

It’s easy to write admirable values; it’s harder to live them. In describing courage we say, “You question actions inconsistent with our values.” We want everyone to help each other live the values and hold each other responsible for being role models. It is a continuous aspirational stretch.

In describing integrity we say, “You only say things about fellow employees you say to their face.” This attribute is one of the hardest for new people to believe — and to learn to practice. In most situations, both social and work, those who consistently say what they really think about people are quickly isolated and banished. We work hard to get people to give each other professional, constructive feedback – up, down and across the organization – on a continual basis. Leaders demonstrate that we are all fallible and open to feedback. People frequently ask others, “What could I be doing better?” and themselves, “What feedback have I not yet shared?”

We believe we will learn faster and be better if we can make giving and receiving feedback less stressful and a more normal part of work life. Feedback is a continuous part of how we communicate and work with one another versus an occasional formal exercise. We build trust by being selfless in giving feedback to our colleagues even if it is uncomfortable to do so. Feedback helps us to avoid sustained misunderstandings and the need for rules. Feedback is more easily exchanged if there is a strong underlying relationship and trust between people, which is part of why we invest time in developing those professional relationships. We celebrate the people who are very candid, especially to those in more powerful positions. We know this level of candor and feedback can be difficult for new hires and people in different parts of the world where direct feedback is uncommon. We actively help people learn how to do this at Netflix through coaching and modeling the behaviors we want to see in every employee.

Every time I read this Netflix statement, it inspires me. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!

Warmest Regards,