Kevin Kruse wrote an insightful article about Netflix published in Forbes September 2016 called Netflix Has No Rules Because They Hire Great People. He shares a number of compelling ideas about how Netflix continues to play at the top of its game while resisting the normal rigidity prolonged success brings.
The gist of how they do it is by hiring and keeping the very best people. Rules are not a part of the picture. HR policies, rigid proceedures and policies don't exist. Their high trust culture comes down to everyone putting the company's interest first and supporting the desire to participate in a very high-performance workplace. When you do that, 97% of your employees will do the right thing. Rules won't fix the other 3%. Not hiring them in the first place resolves that issue. Or letting them go with a generous severance when a hiring mistake was made.
Netflix started in 1998 as a DVD-by-mail company. Today, less than 20 years into their journey, they have 3,500 employees and generate over $7 Billion a year from 81 million subscribers to their online streaming service. They started, right out of the gate, with the ideas about building a high-performing company that continue to provide the rock-solid foundation for their continued growth in a very fast moving environment. A while ago they created the now famous Netflix Culture Deck that has become one of the most important documents about building successful organizations to come about in the past two decades.
Incorporating these ideas into a hundred year old monolithic organization would be a daunting task, if even possible. However like most changes, with the powerful desire to do something different, supported by a fierce focus over the long haul and world class change leadership embedded throughout the organization, it is possible. Just not easy.