I'm a firm believer that the culture of an organization is ultimately determined by the actions of those at the top (a fish rots from the head, etc). I also believe that the culture is determined very early on in a company's history and is very hard to change later. And great brands are most authentic when they naturally emerge out of the internal culture of the organization.

For these reasons, I'm very conscious of the culture we're building at Eldarion and look to other companies that have done it well. I've been thinking for a while about writing something up for new employees. Then this presentation from Netflix comes along:

http://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664 (HT: Techcrunch)

At least until I do my little write up on Eldarion culture (and probably long after that too), these slides are going to be the number one thing I ask new employees to read when they come on board.

It's definitely worth reading the whole thing but here are some highlights (mostly direct quotes):

  • the real values of a company are revealed by who they promote, reward or let go
  • question any actions inconsistent with the company's values
  • imagine if every person at [your company] is someone you respect and learn from
  • adequate performance gets a generous severance package
  • responsible people thrive on freedom and are worthy of freedom
  • vacation policy: there is no policy (just focus on what people get done, not how many days they work)
  • expense and travel policy: act in [your company]'s best interest (that's it!)
  • high performance people will do better work if they understand the context (so be open about strategy and results)
  • endeavor to have only outstanding employees
  • give people big salaries and the freedom to spend as they think best (no bonuses, no philanthropy, no set stock options etc)

These are just sound bites, though, to give you a flavour. Read the presentation in its entirety.

Some of it is much easier for a small company, so it's amazing that Netflix has been able to sustain it as it grows. This is assuming they actually practice what they preach, but I have no reason to doubt they do. The thing reads like they live it, unlike the vast majority of statements of vision and mission.

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