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Powerful summary

Patty McCord

Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

4.2 (60 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Powerful by Patty McCord is a business book that offers insights on how to create a high-performance workplace culture. It emphasizes the importance of clear communication, feedback, and empowering employees to take ownership of their work.

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    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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    What is Powerful about?

    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.

    Powerful Review

    Powerful (2018) by Patty McCord is a thought-provoking book that challenges conventional notions about building successful teams and organizations. Here's why it's worth reading:

    • McCord provides fascinating insights from her experience as the chief talent officer at Netflix, offering valuable lessons on leadership and management.
    • Practical examples and actionable advice make this book a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their organizational effectiveness.
    • Through her honest and straightforward approach, McCord keeps readers captivated by dismantling traditional HR practices and emphasizing a focus on performance and results.

    Best quote from Powerful

    . . . there is no better reward than making a significant contribution to meeting a challenge.

    —Patty McCord
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    Who should read Powerful?

    • Leaders and managers
    • Entrepreneurs
    • Anyone interested in the stupendous rise of Netflix

    About the Author

    Patty McCord served for almost a decade-and-a-half with the Netflix executive team, experimenting with the company’s workflows and creating a high-performance work culture as a result. McCord is now a consultant serving big corporations and smaller start-ups alike. She is also a frequent public speaker and has contributed to publications such as the Harvard Business Review and NPR.

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    Powerful FAQs 

    What is the main message of Powerful?

    The main message of Powerful is that organizations need to embrace radical honesty and transparency to foster a culture of high performance.

    How long does it take to read Powerful?

    The reading time for Powerful varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Powerful a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Powerful is a must-read for anyone interested in building successful organizations. It provides practical insights and challenges conventional management practices.

    Who is the author of Powerful?

    The author of Powerful is Patty McCord.

    What to read after Powerful?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Powerful, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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