Book takeaways: No rules rules
I just finished reading this book. This was a interesting dive into the managerial practices at Netflix (from the CEO's perspective, for the most part), and how Netflix thinks it helps them thrive. It has its fair share of confirmation and survivorship bias, but it had some valuable insights. Here are my takeaways:
In teams or orgs with high talent-density, there are frequent, high-value feedback loops, ownership of ideas and decisions is encouraged and highly valued, and trust is everything.
As a leader, possibly the most important thing you do is to work very hard in establishing and aligning a shared context (usually driven or defined by the product or company strategy), and work on constantly reinforcing this.
Once you've established a shared context, actively empower everyone to own their part of the decision pipeline. Ideally this includes all aspects of the job – tooling, processes, economy, vacations, working hours, etc. Capitalism without capital makes a similar point about the role of managers:
In intangible-intensive firms there will be a premium on managers who can share information both up and down the organization and keep loyal workers sticking to the firm. That means using authority in a way that builds a good organization.
I think the idea here is that a good manager/leader understands that a very talent-dense team does not need to be told what to do; instead, one can simply tell them where the company wants to go and trust the team to take it there, performing course-corrections as non-invasively as possible (the book calls this leading with context, not control).
Members of talent-dense teams generally prefer taking complete ownership of their share of the decision space (decisions are not structured hierarchically in such orgs), and are comfortable giving and accepting honest feedback. (I'm not entirely sold on how Netflix does open-for-all negative feedback sessions. It is one thing to provide candid feedback to someone, a whole another thing to do this in front of a few hundred people. But I've also never been there, so maybe that's an acquired taste).