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Powerful

Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

By Patty McCord
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Powerful by Patty McCord
Synopsis

Based on the work practices at Netflix, Powerful (2017) is a guide to building a work culture that can adapt to today’s fast-paced and ever-changing markets. It offers insights that are rooted in an unconventional way of managing people. You’ll discover eight practices of management that’ll help you create a successful work culture and business.

Key idea 1 of 9

Keep your business agile by giving teams the freedom to do their best.

If you’re a business manager, then you know that efficiency is key to success. And you probably have a set of procedures and policies that keep things efficient – a strict workflow that ensures relevant issues are brought to your attention as quickly as possible.

But what if you were to learn that rigid structuring and inflexible procedures, though supposedly making your business more efficient, were, in fact, making it less so?

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing market, it’s best to make your business lean – that is, as procedure-free and structureless as possible.

The first step toward leanness is to jettison the traditional, top-down management that’s hog-tying most businesses. The goal is to be as agile as possible, and if employees must seek your approval or opinion whenever a decision needs to be made, your business will become stiff and sluggish – the opposite of what it should be.

Netflix is an excellent example of corporate nimbleness. With grace and speed, they adapted to the changing needs of viewers, transitioning from a by-mail DVD-rental company to a top-notch streaming service. This nimble adaptation would have been impossible had the company been mired in outmoded management protocols.

But perhaps your company relies on various fixed policies, such as rewards or bonuses, to incentivize employees, and you worry that removing this structure will damage their motivation.

Well, worry not. If workers feel that they’re part of a strong team and that their contributions truly matter, they’ll be more motivated than ever. And the best way to build driven teams is to give workers the freedom to solve problems and tackle projects in their own way.

Indeed, once you loosen the reins, your employees may start producing even better results, because making a real contribution to important projects is a reward in and of itself.

This certainly happened at Netflix.

In 2001, the company experienced major economic difficulties and was forced to lay off a third of its workers. The remaining employees, all of whom were highly talented, were forced to take on more responsibilities and work, which proved quite beneficial. Now that each person’s work made a major difference, everyone put in much more effort – and Netflix was soon on its way to recovery.

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