The Culture of Netflix that Drives an Innovation Mindset

The Culture of Netflix that Drives an Innovation Mindset

A conversation with Vernā Myers, author, activist, thought leader, and VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix.

Netflix has revolutionized the at-home entertainment experience through its innovative streaming platform. The exponential growth of their company and rival competition drives a culture of innovation. Netflix continues to find stories from all over the world to provide a breadth of content so that no matter where you come from or what you believe or think, you should be able to find it. This is intentional. This is their innovative culture story.

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It's amazing to be part of a brand and a product that is bringing joy to people. We really do want to entertain the world.”

Build a culture on curiosity, open descent, diversity, and inclusion

Build a culture on curiosity, open dissent, diversity, and inclusion

We at Netflix have to embed certain guiding principles into our innovative culture. One of those principles is always to be curious. Curiosity, curiosity, curiosity! Curiosity is a good instinct and can lead to exciting new thoughts and discoveries.

Open dissent and farming for dissent, which is, when you think you've got something great, make sure to search for those who may be thinking, "not so much," drives our innovation as well. When you welcome that kind of dissent, the power of diversity can transform a decision or product as diverse perspectives innovate versus replicate the status quo.

Diversity and inclusion tie these values together to make sure we explore all sorts of options and perspectives to courageously go deeper as one. This creates an exciting work environment.

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Diversity is about being invited to the party, but inclusion is actually being invited to dance."

Dancing with diverse perspectives

Dancing with diverse perspectives

To balance diverse perspectives in the decision room, you must first appreciate the differences without seeing the differences as a problem. Ensure that you have an environment that feels psychologically safe, making sure that hierarchy or positions don't cause people to think that they can't share their opinion if they counter someone at a higher level. You also need to realize that we're a global company, so you have to consider other cultures, languages, leadership and confrontation styles based on those cultural understandings. As they say, the devil is in the details, and it's also about how you execute so that you can hear those voices, especially the voices of the minority opinion.

Courage and its role in culture

Courage and its role in culture

It's pretty much impossible to be innovative without courage because you're trying to move into an arena that no one else has ever been in before. Sometimes there are dire consequences connected with it, which is to say that you could make a mistake. So much of how we exist in corporate America is about covering our butt, and not making a mistake and not letting people know. You have to have the courage to pay attention to where your limitations are or where your improvements need to be. You have to have the courage to receive and give feedback. Be transparent when a mistake is made. This is courageous. We celebrate the curiosity it took to step into the arena and the courage to learn from your mistakes, so you don't repeat them.

Courage is connected to how we talk about our inclusion mission. We talk about having consciousness, competence, compassion, and courage. We're talking about the courage to have difficult conversations. The courage to interrupt bias, stand up, and say something when you see it or racism or xenophobia. Courage is being in a team meeting and realizing that all of a sudden, you notice that people are interrupting women and saying, "Hey, I think we need to stop interrupting each other and speaking up and be allies." All of that takes courage and is a vital piece of our culture.

Netflix Courageous Culture

  1. Diversity and inclusion
  2. Open dissent and farming for dissent
  3. Curiosity, curiosity, curiosity
  4. Own your mistakes
  5. Receive feedback
  6. Engage in difficult conversations (speak up when you see bias)
Diversity and inclusion is action-oriented

Diversity and inclusion is action-oriented

When we started this work at Netflix, we mostly had people at the party, but alongside the wall, like a bad middle school mixer dance. Where you're the wallflower, just hoping to get in, hoping to be that popular kid or at least have that popular kid acknowledge your existence.

I think about the quote, "Diversity is about being invited to the party, but inclusion is actually being invited to dance," a lot because it just immediately helped people think, "Oh, there's more we have to do." We can't just say, "Come on in." We have to make space for people to show up their best because we are controlling those spaces."

"What about equity," people ask me all the time, and we've been thinking about that because equity really is the ambition that the playing field or the dance floor, however you put it, is not level. I think what diversity, inclusion, and equity is talking about is, "Hey, let's rethink where our values come from, let's expand the status quo, so the dance floor has level footing and open access for all people to bring their very best.

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Courage is a stance. It's a way of standing in your responsibility and being accountable for moving things forward.”

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