Some time in September of 2009 I saw a "tweet" that contained a link to the slide deck embedded above - a presentation by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings about how they formed an inspiring company culture at Netflix.  Throughout this massive deck (128 slides!) I was both awed by the openness of the slides (revenue numbers and business models revealed) and inspired at how interesting and unique Netflix approaches innovation, compensation, and several other vital aspects of their business.

Hastings credits this company culture and the core values of the company as a major reason why they have been able to consistently grow their business, fight off competitors (they rendered Blockbuster's brick and mortar model obsolete), and constantly develop new ways to improve value they deliver to their customer base (like streaming to my Xbox 360 - which is an amazing value add to their service!)

The key to their success?  Many things, but it may be best summed up with the way they answered this question: "What gives Netflix the best chance of continuous success for many generations of technology and people?"

1. Behaviors and Skills

One of the key components is the Behaviors and Skills possessed by employees.  Hastings defines 9 of them:

  • Judgment
  • Communication
  • Impact
  • Curiosity
  • Innovation
  • Courage
  • Passion
  • Honesty
  • Selflessness

They want every employee to embody these behaviors and skills and reinforce them often with employees.   At Three Deep, we value many of the same qualities.  In fact, these qualities have been closely tied with the torrid growth pace we have experienced in 2008 and 2009. While it may be hard to pinpoint the exact contribution each of these behaviors and skills contributed to our growth, I can safely say that they have become inherent in the company culture.

2. Responsibility

As a growing business in a growing business segment, one of the most difficult tasks we face is the delegation and adoption of responsibility as new colleagues are brought on board.  Personally, I have undergone a big transition from single-handedly managing an entire client engagement (playing roles of sales support, service line manager, implementation resource and account manager) to working with a team of people who take on many of these roles.  It has also been an invaluable and rewarding professional growth opportunity.

The key to a smooth transition comes down to a comfortable level of trust that is established working in a collaborative team environment.   Working with a team of tremendously talented individuals who assume responsibility for the work they produce certainly helps accelerate the transition process.

Hastings points out the qualities of "the Rare Responsible Person" - which outlines traits that he looks for in employees.   These qualities make for a great foundation for any member of an organization.

  • Self motivating
  • Self aware
  • Self disciplined
  • Self improving
  • Acts like a leader
  • Doesn't wait to be told what to do
  • Never feels "that's not my job"
  • Picks up the trash lying on the floor
  • Behaves like an owner

I am especially enamored with the last quality listed; behaves like an owner.  Without giving away key hiring processes, I must say that working with people who possess this quality is an absolute pleasure.  Show me someone who behaves like an owner, and I will show you someone who is great to work with.