Category Archives: Leadership

Blitzscaling 16: Reed Hastings on Building a Streaming Empire

This is my 13th  blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling sessions. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for Blitzscaling. Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

The previous blog related to Blitzscaling is here.

In this session, Reed Hoffman interviewing Reed Hastings, the Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix. And the most sought-after mentor of silicon valley shares his mantras of building the culture and scaling the company.

  1. Netflix culture deck is the most evolved culture decks out their. And here are the details of the deck for you :

  2. Putting your culture in writing not only helps you to get right kind of people in your team, it also makes the entire thing more debatable to get more understanding. At Netflix, every new employee goes through the deck to understand about the company.
  3. With the right kind of density of people in the company, you need less processes to manage them. More the people, more processes are required. Reed call this as “Right Talent Density”.
  4. Your manager should always be giving the context of why they are doing what they are doing. And then just give them autonomy to people to execute freely.
  5. Reed highlighted that NefFlix company culture is different from Google. And he emphasised that one company culture is different from another. Organization culture is an expression of what you and your senior leadership want to be. Thought I believe that while it’s important to define that expression of what you want to be, it is also very important that it should be aligned with what your customer wants from you as an organization.
  6. You can only have a strong culture in your company if you can have a strong & clear mission. The funny thing about mission statements/plan is that “it doesn’t wort rk out most of the time”. But one thing it for-sure helps in to help the current and prospective employees and customers see what company want to achieve in next 5 to 10 years.
  7. When attacked by the big competition, focus on your core rather than expanding the offering; because it will further lead to more fronts to fight the battle.
  8. Being too intellectual to your customer on why you are offering what you are offering doesn’t work, as customer care doesn’t care about that. Your customer care about value, price and service.
  9. “The only prediction about the future that comes out to be true is that prediction itself will be wrong”. When Netflix was seeking funding in 1997,  they thought that online video streaming will pick up in next 5 years by 2002. By the time 2002 came, internet bandwidth was still at the nascent stage. So they thought & projected that by 2007, online streaming will be contributing 50% to their business. But it was still ZERO after 2007.
  10. The right time to become an entrepreneur is when you got the idea that to make it work you are ready to go and touch the poverty line. Or other way around is when you can’t get that idea out of your head for next 1 to 2 years.
  11. You can’t let friendship come in the way of professional or business judgements. So when you are hiring your friends or friends of friends, just make sure of this thing.
  12. Use more data when you are picking stocks, but less data when you are picking your spouse or new hire.
  13. As a CEO, you have to invest in yourself on the continuous basis. Because when you become better, your company become better. As you grow your company, you focus on creating the culture, mission/vision, hiring right guys so that they can hire right guys further. To make this all happen, you need to improve every single day.
  14. There is no right answer whether you can become an entrepreneur or not. From Reed perspective, if you have got a strong grit and if you are a generalist who can do multiple things(most of it will be very boring) for many years to come, you can try your luck.
  15. The biggest mistake you can do in your life or as a founder is try and to be someone else. So all Steve Jobs lovers, it fine to read about him and get inspired, but dont want to be one.
  16. Successful teams and employees act like a sportsman/women. Treating your employees like family means you probably need favour’s from them or want them to work for you cheap.

The ABC of Performance

 

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Ram Charan wrote in his book execution – the future companies are the ones who will execute well in Strategy, People, and Operations. While strategy and operations are very well defined the challenge has always been in the crucial link “people” – aligning them is the key to organizational success.

Performance Management is a subject where sometimes process’ overwrite people and culture. And somehow we create an environment wherein performance of an individual is judged like a Miss Universe pageant, where you are asked the most clichéd question – why should you be the miss universe and the participants compete how they posses superpowers to heal the world.

 

With so much cacophony around performance management – at qilo we call it performance enablement, the organizations have to first create an ecosystem for an individual to perform and we call it performance ABC driving attitudes, behaviors, and capability.

 

Even if you have best your strategy and process’ in place if your people do not have the right attitude display the right behaviors and are capable to execute their role – growth will never happen.

 

I have heard a lot of leaders talking about lack of readiness in their organization – actually it’s not readiness its fear of change and fuzzy vision of future.

 

So what should be done? My learning so far.

 

1)   Question the design of the performance management framework – it is meant to build leaderboards or create an ecosystem for people to perform

2)   Keep it simple – Business imperatives (strategic) next the role I play in achieving them and how I am doing it

3)   Pay for potential – Build the team that will take you to achieve success in future or lives in the past glory?

4)   Feedback – Tell me how can I improve and do my job better now! Not when I have done it

5)   One size does not fit all – Try to make your performance design align to people, not a stiff upper lip

6)   It’s not a checklist – Do not run a process just for the heck of running it, define the core why you need to do it?

7)   Enroll people not force them into a process – enrollment has larger powers and drives accountability

8)   Start from the top – leaders have to walk the talk, there is simply no way out

9)   Highlight and showcase the positive behaviors even if they are low in numbers glorify them for others to see and follow

10) Make it transparent – there is nothing grey here – it should be either black or white

 

Bring the change now, if you don’t your competitor will.

 

Power of intent

Intent

Dreams, Vision, Strategy and Plans, all fail…. if you do not have the right intent!

An intent is the most powerful thing in the universe. Before anything comes your intent. You need to be honest and genuine in declaring your intent and the universe will work towards it to make it happen.

While we all agree to the power of intent, the paradox is we do not follow the same, when we run our organizations.

Leaders have to announce their intent and ensure to make it loud. Once you do that, magic will happen – your teams will be connected with you. They will work collectively and purposefully in making your intent happen!

Leaders normally focus more on achievements, not on their intent – why are they doing what they are doing and most importantly, what is the intent?

Yesterday I was having a discussion with a CEO and his intent was to make substantial revenues to fund his social venture. And my question to him was has he announced this intent with the team? And the answer was no.

Intent sometimes gets mislead by vision, goals. Actually, it’s the statement you make to the universe at a consciousness level and if you are genuine and honest you will for sure unlock the power of the universe.

Sometimes our reasonable self-becomes our dominant personality. And we start putting logics, connecting the dots and overthinking. Actually, all we need to do is answer a simple question, what’s your intent?

Intent comes from your consciousness not from your brain and at that level you are the clearest and transparent.

With intent comes the purpose, which binds everyone together and everyone starts exhibiting ownership and accountability behaviours.

So, announce your intent to your team next when you speak and see the magic unfolds.

 

It’s Beyond Hari Saadoo

Who can forget Hari Saado of Naukri.com, it creatively stamped that people, don’t leave organisations, they leave their manager.

Leading research by Gallup. In one study of 7,272 U.S. adults, it found that 50 percent of employees left their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.”

But there is another important dimension to this relationship, which is organisation performance. An individual’s performance has a high correlation with the relationship with one’s manager. Stronger the relationships, higher are the chances of achievement.

qilo’s research on work place culture nails leadership as the most critical dimension for a performance based work culture

Relationship with the manager is not of a buddy but of a coach or a leader. Empathy, Clarity of strategy, Communication, Teams Wellbeing, Technical skills, Acknowledgement, Trust and constructive feedback are some of the critical competencies required in a manager. And they form building blocks of the relationship

If these are lacking between manager and team members, your organisation is bound to be on a downhill.

Create a managerial effectiveness score – which is a factor of the leadership competencies, from the lenses of the team members. And this should be one of the Lead indicators for your business.

Low managerial effectiveness score leads to delayed performance achievement or low performance, conflicts, lack of creativity, accountability and most important low participation and belongingness.

For the leaders, it becomes imperative to gauge the depth of the iceberg. And incorporate this indicator in the business dashboards.

 

So next time, when you are doing business review ask for managers effectiveness score also.

Getting ready for your purpose

Do you believe that universe orchestrates incidents to get answers for questions that matter to you? I never believed in this till recently. In the last 2 months, series of incidents has happened which provided clarification to the question that matters to me: “Is purpose really required in life?”. I am sharing 4 such situations from the series of them.

I was watching a session by Shishir Mehrotra on scaling YouTube and 10 things that matter when you are scaling up. He mentioned about the importance of purpose and suggested to read “Drive” by Daniel Pink.

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The central theme of the book is about how to unlock your intrinsic motivation through Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery. As per Daniel “Humans, by their true nature, seek purpose- A cause greater and more enduring than themselves.” The book has done its job of helping in identify what motivates people and what will motivate people in future to achieve extraordinary results. But my conclusion about purpose was still like “It sounds good like mission and vision statements which companies put on their websites, but does it really works in real work?” My understanding & belief till recently was: Your purpose keeps changing based on the stage of your life.

Another incident happened when  I recently visited the upper Himalayas area “Lahaul and Spiti”.This part of the Himalayas is NOT much populated and also crowded by tourist. We took a road trip from Keylong to Baralacha pass. Balaracha pass also connects  “Lahaul and Spiti” valley with Leh and Ladakh. It was mesmerizing and the connectedness which I felt with the mother-nature & the entire cosmos lead tears in my eyes. At the same time, I was realizing that what we humans have done to this beautiful place, called earth, because of our never ending greed.

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While moving from one mountain valley to another, and looking at the size of mountains, the torrent of rivers and scenic beauty, why the hell someone will even be bothered about purpose. You and your size don’t even matter here.

Back to the office from the Himalayas, I have put in purpose at back burner & was back at work. And then Arun and Vipul(other co-founders a qilo) insisted me to join them in a leadership workshop at Bangalore. And I was like, what impact will another leadership program make? But then, I have to surrender against the students inside me. And the worst case scenario of  4 days program will be we end up spending more time with each other if the program doesn’t turn up to expectations.  I submitted the fee and was ready to attend the program.

While on my way to Bangalore, I meet Virender, the taxi driver who dropped me at the airport. Virender also works part-time for an NGO where he helps in rescuing girls who are forced into prostitution at GB road(a red-light area in Delhi).

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The kind of details he shared with me was spine chilling. Few details which he shared with me : 70% of young girls and women are forced into prostitution, they sleep just 3 hours on daily basis and they serve on an average 105 to 140 customers per week or higher,  are enough for anyone to think, Are we really evolving as a society? And the problems we face at the professional or personal front of life are far smaller that problems faced by many people out there in this world. I landed at Banglore with a heavy heart. And with lots of thoughts on how things can improve in this world, and my never ending quest of “Is purpose really required in life?”

Program “Mission Impossible(MI) Leaders“ started at 8 in the morning.The first question asked on the first day and within the first-hour was “Who all want to identify the purpose of your life?” Dear Mr. Purpose, you are back again in my life within 12 hours. I answered to facilitator “Is purpose really required in the life? I think purpose keeps changing based on the stage of your life”.

Facilitator smiled and replied back “But do you really want one?” I questioned myself “Are you really open to getting one?”

Next 4 days of the program was very tiring: physically, mentally and emotionally.  MI leaders program turned up as NOT just any regular leadership program where you will learn some key leadership skills. It provided much-needed clarity on my quest to get an answer for “Is purpose really required in life?”

Your purpose of life cannot be limited to yourself. Most of us keep putting our priorities in life as our purpose. Do you really think the purpose of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Henry Ford, Mother Teresa, J.R.D Tata, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandella, Thomas Edison and many others like them are limited to themselves? Your purpose is your means to feel connected to this universe.And it will push you every morning to do good for every species on this earth.

Next time when you are listening to any talk on YouTube or TEDx, or visiting a place where you feel connected with nature or meeting your Virender, consider that you are getting prepared for your purpose.

So have you found your purpose? If not, it’s worth an effort to find one.

Summary of Learnings

  • The priorities in your life are NOT equal to your purpose of life. Don’t mix them up.
  • Your purpose is your means to get connected with the universe at large and live a more meaningful life. If it’s limited to you, it’s not a purpose.
  • This world is driven by unreasonable people. Your competencies and capabilities will not help you being unreasonable, but your purpose will.
  • Once you find your purpose, is it 100% that you will be able to achieve it? Doubt is good.