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The information game: How Netflix’s culture inspires innovation

How Netflix's culture inspires innovation

May 7, 2015

Innovation, innovation, innovation. Not quite the famous phrase that Tony Blair swept to power with way back in 1997 but a mantra of significance nonetheless.

Innovation, by its very nature, is elusive. Media streaming giant Netflix has offered a tantalising glimpse into its unorthodox company culture aimed at bringing the best out of its employees.

Employee technology director (yes, you’ve read that right) Ashley Sprague revealed in an interview with website diginomica that internal communication is a fundamental element in the firm’s approach towards its workforce being “highly aligned and loosely coupled”.

So what does that mean in plain English?

It’s quite simple. Traditional organisations tend to rely firmly on structure and hierarchy, usually closely controlling the flow of information to employees.

This has often been cited as a barrier towards true innovation, not to mention engagement.

Netflix is different.

Sprague said: “Our culture is built on a foundation of freedom of responsibility, something we are trying to ingrain in every employee, so they can have a platform to make the right decisions, to innovate and to spend their time wisely.

“It’s a balance though. And I think it’s something that mostly affects new employees as they come in.

“They come in from larger corporations where they have been taught a lot of structure, a lot of process. And so they often come back to my team for some guidance on how they can live in this ‘freedom of responsibility’ world.”

Sharing every detail of important information with employees is a priority for Netflix, says Sprague.

As a result of this open and transparent approach – known inside the organisation as ‘context not control’ – Netflix says it is now reaping the benefits from an inspired workforce.

Sprague added: “One of our values that we talk about a lot is being highly aligned and loosely coupled. This allows for a lot of innovation and a lot of pace to happen at Netflix.

“This is where we can bring strategy to every employee, allow every person at Netflix to feel like they all know what they’re working for and what they’re working towards.

“It also helps with a lot of cross functional meetings and involvement between teams, where they can just move quickly together, because they are all aligned on what their goal is ahead.”

To read the full interview, click here…