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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Re: A new Corporate Organization model

Please find below a response by Andy Tillo to the previous post

"I like the idea to try something new, but I'd like to see how conflict is managed. So if 'Jim' and 'Steve' both created a new product that 'Bill' thinks isn't worth his time. How do you get Bill to work on it? He reports to nobody, but has the tools that Jim and Steve need. I'd wonder how that is resolved.

I can see the "Kum Bah Yah" mentality where everyone agrees with everyone else and it *could* happen if you have the right mix of people and personalities, but I have to assume that Netflix is a fairly large business and any group that large has diversity and disagreements.

I *do* think that management is a waste of time and money in all organizations larger than about 50 people, but I think it is a necessary evil when you get to be much bigger than that. The key is finding the person/persons that are going to listen to all sides of the story and make the best decision for the company. Without someone making an ultimate decision on which direction you're going you're going to be spending cycles in many directions...

...unless you decide to set up a system of voting on *every* decision and everyone agrees that the vote is the ultimate answer. That's a completely different tact, but I suppose possible and would be new thinking as well..."

My response:

Jim and Steve would not create anything new without the support of Bill if Bill is a required participant in product development. If you have an incentive model that rewards all participating team members for success of new products then Bill would be inclined to support a new product which would potentially be successful. If Bill has concerns or better ideas then they can be discussed/debated in a team environment. Since Netflix pays people in 90th percentile and only hires smart people, it should be relatively easier.

Everyone agreeing with everyone on everything is highly unlikely given the "functional think (I am a marketing guy vs. I am a finance guy)" conditioning in schools. However, if they do and the results are not good from the "group think approach" then the behavior will change.

The point is that the flat management model is relatively better than hierarchical model. However, like everything else it is not perfect.

You may want to read "The Starfish and The Spider" to gain insights into leaderless organizations.

Good Luck!