‘Orange Is The New Black’ Has A Good Chance Of Winning Some Emmys
‘Orange Is The New Black’ Has A Good Chance
Of Winning Some Emmys
Lots of companies give lip service to words like “innovation,” “freedom” and “responsibility” when they talk about corporate culture. But peek behind the curtain and it’s business as usual.
Netflix NFLX-0.02% puts a lot of muscle behind those words. In 2009 CEO Reed Hastings and former Head of Talent Patty McCord put together a 129-slide presentation on the culture they were building at Netflix. Updated in 2011, the slideshow has become a touchstone in Silicon Valley. Sheryl Sandberg called it the “most important document ever to come out of the Valley.”
Netflix relies on a mix of freedom and responsibility among its employees. Some words of wisdom from the presentation: “Adequate performance gets a generous severance package.” People aren’t measured by the number of hours they spend in the office but by their accomplishments. “Sustained A level performance, despite minimal effort, is rewarded with more responsibility and great pay.” B level performance earns a ticket out the door. Employees who have ideas for how to improve Netflix are expected to put together groups to “socialize” their ideas and get input from different departments. As long as ideas adhere to a few basic Netflix principles (commercial free,complete seasons, etc.), any idea is welcome.
Netflix’s corporate culture helped land the company 30th on our annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies with a 47.15% innovation premium, which measures how much investors have bid up a company’s stock price above the value of its existing business.
Tawni Cranz, the current Chief Talent Officer at Netflix says that some of the company’s best innovations have come from giving people the freedom to come up with new ideas and the responsibility to make those ideas work.
“We leave a lot of space for people to try things,” says Cranz. “We try to state what problems we’re trying to solve and let you solve it.”
This attitude helped Netflix come up with a section just for kids, full seasons of new shows released at the same time and engineering improvements.
That mindset also crosses into the company’s original content. Just as Netflix strives to hire the smartest people to fill each position and then gives each person the freedom to do what he or she does best, the company tries to work with the best producers, directors and stars and gives them the freedom to do their thing.
While all studios and networks strive to work with the best talent, there’s a Hollywood tradition of working an idea to death. Any writer can tell you stories of endless notes from various network executives that turned a promising idea into something corporate and bland.
Netflix takes a different approach.
“We think about getting out of the way of great storytelling,” says Cranz. “We give [our show creators] a lot of freedom from the beginning and that helps them.”
That freedom is producing some of the best shows on TV. This year Netflix is up for 31 Emmys, up from 14 last year. That’s more nominations than Fox , Showtime or even prestigious AMC received. It’s not even close to HBO’s 99 nominations but this is only the second year Netflix has been eligible to compete for an Emmy.
When the award show airs on Monday night, there’s a good chance Netflix will walk away with more than the 3 Emmys the company won last year. At last Saturday’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards (which honors behind the scenes people), Netflilx won 7 gold statues. There’s money on Orange Is The New Black winning for best comedy (upsetting Modern Family) and Robin Wright Penn winning best lead actress in a drama for House of Cards.
If Netflix does walk away with some major Emmys on Monday night, it will be a very big deal. Not only will it help cement Netflix’s position as the most important company in television right now, it will be a win for creative freedom. The old guard studios are already starting to do away with pilots (the practice of commissioning one episode of a show before committing to a season) but maybe they’ll take a page from Netflix’s culture manual and start offering creative talent more freedom and responsibility as well.