Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility


“Patty McCord’s compelling account of the culture that made Netflix succeed should be required reading for everyone who wants their business to thrive in the 21st century. A natural-born storyteller, McCord shows us how the Netflix ‘methodology’ of radical honesty, debating everything and relentlessly focusing on the future can set us up to win in the 21st century. With Powerful, McCord challenges, entertains, and inspires as she sets out how we can bring out the best in ourselves and others.” ― Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global

THINK Review

“Part of being an adult is being able to hear the truth. And the corollary is that you owe the adults you hire the truth. That is actually what they want most from you.”

Corporate culture was in the news in 2017: The executive shake-up at Uber; a Google engineer fired for publishing a controversial memo; and the #MeToo movement still impacting companies throughout all industries and verticals. Corporate culture and mature leadership have never been more important.

In her 14 years as Neflix’s chief talent officer, Patty McCord helped to reshape the modern American workplace. A deck she developed, “Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility,” has been viewed more than 17 million times. As an employer, Netflix is well regarded for generous salaries, a year-long 100 percent paid parental leave policy and unlimited vacation. Its superior corporate culture functions thanks in large measure to a single premise: Behave like an adult.

McCord’s new book, “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility,” describes the thinking that shaped the company’s culture and processes – and ultimately its growth. It chronicles how Netflix designed their company, and uses this as a blueprint for explaining how others might build a high-performance culture to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world.

McCord said that after leaving Netflix in 2012 and shifting to consulting work, she wrote “Powerful” to help other companies navigate a new way to manage workers: “It’s a whole system. It’s a whole way of thinking about work that’s different. And I just wanted people to kind of re-think the way that we’ve been managing people for so long,” she said.

There are myriad reasons American workplace culture has changed over time — most notably, through fairness laws, technology and communications improvements.

This guide is full of actionable ideas which would be helpful to start-ups or mature companies that need to modernize their culture and core behaviors. As we all use Netflix, and remember and lived through its beginnings and growth, it’s intriguing to read about the thinking and practices in their decisions and strategies. Examples of how some of their decisions were made enliven the text. For example, we get a peek into the genesis of “House of Cards” and the decision to release a whole series at once.

There are helpful questions at the end of each chapter to spur deep thinking about your workplace. This book should motivate companies to experiment with culture, and design practices to meet their challenges in a rapidly changing landscape. It’s not business theory, but instead the how, why and what Netflix did to become a success that is extraordinarily useful.

“You have to exhibit the courage you want people to have, the courage to say, ‘I honestly don’t think that’s a good idea at all, and here’s why.’ “

Buy the book at Amazon.com

More Recommended Titles