Q: What’s a tougher challenge for newspapers than their business model?
A: A culture that can’t change fast enough.
A friend recently shared this slideshow from Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. It’s not that hard to find, actually. It’s posted on the Netflix jobs page.
Nothing remarkable about a presentation by the CEO on a company’s jobs page, right? Except this one says things like: “Adequate performance gets a generous severance package.”
- As we grow, minimize rules
- Inhibit chaos with ever more high performance people
- Flexibility is more important than efficiency in the long term
Click through the presentation (it’s 128 slides but it goes quickly). One grim observation: almost all the elements Netflix rejects are standard within newspaper cultures: valuing rules and structure, rewarding longevity, encouraging employees to move up the ladder, you name it. Check out slides 49 and 50 for Hastings’ prediction of the outcome of a culture like that.
So: Is Netflix able to behave this way because it’s still a startup? Or can it behave this way because it chooses to?
Hastings clearly believes the latter: that Netflix can maintain its culture even as it grows and matures. Which leads to the obvious question: What would a newspaper operation look like if it hired and managed people like Netflix does?