Enough already with the negative press on Netflix. They did what any firm hoping to be innovative does: they tried something out, learned from failure, and made adjustments. Instead of the public drubbing of Mr. Hastings, we are suggesting a virtual ticker tape parade.
- He had the courage to try out a new model. Let’s remember the initial disruptive innovation of movies by mail grew Netflix to over 25 million subscribers in nine years. It changed our expectations and habits about access to movies at home and on the road.
- He quickly acknowledged the plan wasn’t working. WOW! Think of that, someone who has the courage to admit a mistake and move on.
- He’s not changing his story. No whitewashing, no blaming. He said, “I messed up.” We all mess up. We don’t always take direct responsibility for it, especially publically. Thank you, Reed Hastings.
- He is willing to reverse himself. Ideal? No. Real life? Yes. And though he is still not doing everything the way people think he should, he is open to listening and learning, even though he sits at the top of the org chart.
- He’s got a long-term view. “It’s a mistake to measure everything by what happened last week or last month,” he explained in an interview with the New York Times. We couldn’t agree more.
We know the next chapters in the story are not fully written as Netflix stumbles through new waves of disruptive change. Customers and investors vote with their pocketbooks, and Netflix has lost a lot of them. But building a new, successful business model is hard, and sustaining is even harder. Jumping on the “bashing bandwagon” after the fact is pretty easy.
Let’s raise a glass to Reed Hastings, a change agent in the public arena, to thank him for his powerful illustration of what innovators do: they make bold choices, tune in to market response, take personal responsibility for decisions, and then calibrate quickly and repeatedly. He had the courage to take a risk and face up to a heated backlash In the process, and he learned something about his brand – that subscribers are so emotionally attached to Netflix, they weren’t ready to let it morph into something else.
Here, Here, Reed Hastings.
Editor’s Note: Here are four recent articles about Netflix from other Innovation Excellence authors:
- The Remaking of Netflix
- Netflix Hits the Wall
- Don’t Let Yourself Be Netflixed
- Netflux – A Qwikster Innovation Divorce for Netflix
Janice Maffei and Joanne Spigner are the founding partners of VisionFirst, helping teams to envision their future state and innovate to get there. They invented the rapid visioning tool, Vision-in-a-Box® and co-hosted a weekly program, “Invent the Future,” which showcased innovators in business, education and not-for-profits.