January 13, 2011

netflix and the culture of fear

special K forwarded a netflix article to me (http://www.businessinsider.com/netflix-culture-of-fear-2010-12) ... i immediately passed on to a close pal who works there and got the following great response ... although i still haven't read the original article, i wanted to track the response for posterity.



I read at least one of these.  But I really have to disagree.  If you walk around the halls at Netflix, it really seems like any other company.  I think I spent the first couple of months when I got here wondering if I would take a bullet.  I didn't know anything about streaming or security and made the usual NOOB mistakes.  But I didn't get sniped.  Now I am totally secure in my job and really like it.  I make jokes about the sniping, but I don't worry about it.  And I really don't see others worrying about it either.

I think if you are one of the people Netflix let go, it would be easy to claim that there is a culture of fear.  You were probably one of the 10-percenters that was actually worried about getting fired the whole time you were here.  Netflix doesn't go for sitting around.  They want the ones that are a little more OCD than that.  I can name 5 or 10 people from Danger days that would be fired here at Netflix.  At Microsoft, they "manage out" the bottom feeders.  They will spend 6 months or more "managing someone out".  At Netflix, that process is a lot shorter.  But it's really the same process.

It's hard to explain an environment where people get let go on a regular basis.  I have tried several times lately and people always freak out.  "Oh, that sounds draconian" or some response like that.  I guess it's really rare.  But for me it's hard to describe the one shot environment as well.  As in you get one shot to hire someone and then you keep them no matter what.  Whether they fit or not.  Whether they do good work or not.

I would say the Netflix environment is much less likely to produce the Kin.  But we'll see.