Blog d'Olivier Issaly

Thoughts on R.O.W.E.

I’ve been thinking for a while on work hours issues, with frequent debates in the company I manage, and more recently as we talked of the R.O.W.E. method with friends. I had the feeling something was missing or not balanced in the discussions. At least until I read the Netflix Culture Reference Guide.

In my opinion, a great freedom in your work necessarily means a bigger responsibility on your result. This means compensation and sanctions are based only on results, and not on seniority or quantity of work (and obviously not on friendship…). This were Netflix excels in my mind: their compensation system is smartly balanced. They give a great freedom to their employee, including unlimited vacations. But on the other side, they are extremely demanding: an adequate work is not enough to keep your job.

As a CEO, this is exactly how I would like to work, though sometimes I moved backward when I faced excessived behaviour. I’ve heard a lot of people expressing their whishes to work in this kind of environment, but I’m not sure they consider the whole system. For instance, someone might be fired if his results are not sufficient, even if he has worked twice as much as an average employee. It takes a great maturity for the employee to accept this responsibility. For what I’ve seen, at least in France, we’re far from this culture, but I’ll continue to move toward it.

In the meantime, as Netflix underlines, this culture (responsible employee, result-based compensation system) is probably the best one for a knowledge industry such as Internet businesses, where innovation is key. You just don’t want any constraints that might stiffle innovation: there’s no specific hours when it occurs !


Conceding Errors


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  1. When ROWE comes to my mind, I think about fairness. As you said seniority, friendship or grade don’t count. Nevertheless, they are welcome!

    I think that an adequate work is enough. This work would be result focused only, though. Not presence/friendship/seniority focused. This move would be hard, particularly in France.

    Maybe you’ll be a precursor in France? 🙂

  2. Requiring adequate or above the expectations work is a matter of balance with the kind of liberty and benefits the company grants. Netflix is very demanding because they allow unlimited vacations and always pay above the market.

    A company may be fine with adequate work, but probably will grant less benefits (though at least employees should be free to manage their time and focus on results only).

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