Put the Customer First

Be data-driven, candid, and pro-risk, a course by Todd Yellin.

Todd Yellin

Todd Yellin

VP of Product Innovation, Netflix

Put the Customer First
  • Overview
  • Episodes
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Netflix's VP of Product Innovation Todd Yellin breaks down consumer-centric corporate culture arguing that it all comes down to three factors: at every level, a company should be data-driven, candid, and pro-risk in its approach.

What You‘ll Learn

  • How to experiment with users
  • How to do A/B testing
  • How to learn from failure
  • How to hire employees to support growth


4 Episodes

1. Experiment with the Customer: Key Characteristics of Consumer-Centric Cultures


“The customer is always right” has long been the universal mantra for consumer-facing businesses, but what does this really mean? In the era of big data, companies like Netflix are drilling down on this philosophy and developing entirely new forms of consumer-centric corporate culture.For Netflix, as VP of Product Innovation Todd Yellin explains, it comes down to three factors. At every level, the company strives to be data-driven, candid, and pro-risk in its approach:Data DrivenIgnore what the customers say they want. Listen to the data.Blindly accommodating customer requests can result in unneeded complexity.CandidAvoid hierarchy and politics: What was the idea? How did the idea perform? According to the metrics, is this idea best for the customer?Practice 100% transparency: Promote free exchange of ideas and data between departments.Debate-fulSurface viable ideas: Encourage animated but civil conversation. Everyone needs to feel comfortable giving and receiving criticism.Mainta...

2. Fall on Your Face: A Case Study in Successful Failure, with Netflix


There was a moment in recent business advice history when everyone went crazy about failure. Fail bigger! Fail harder! crowed entrepreneurial evangelists. There is even a “Fail Camp” where would-be innovators can become more comfortable with failure.In every trend, there’s a grain of truth: innovation cannot happen without an appetite for failure, and a commitment to learning from it. That’s the key takeaway from Netflix’s Todd Yellin’s lesson on “successful failure.”Assess your stumblesGood FailureTried for logical reasons / reasonable hypothesisClearly defined metrics for measuring success or failureResulted in new learningsBad FailureTried for no compelling reasonAlready deemed a failure, but tried again anywayFace fall frequentlyIt’s OK to lean so far forward that you fail. Learn from each failure, brush yourself off, and try something new.Temper failure with Minimum Viable Products (MVPs)Only invest enough to yield viable test results. Avoid the temptation to over-inve...

3. Onboard for Growth: A Case Study in Talent Development


How does Netflix, one of the most innovative and fast-growing companies in the new media space, keep itself on an even keel while sailing into uncharted waters? The answer begins with the interview process for new hires. Right from the start, Netflix takes steps to ensure that its employees are ready to fit into the company’s well-defined culture and drive growth.Vet the candidates - Most desired new hire traits:Expertise in fieldGood fit culturally (Don’t be tempted by boasting of political savvy)Great idea curatorsAbility to execute on ideas that add valueComfortable giving and receiving honest criticismInstill a growth mindsetContinue expanding your talent densityBe open to defying old doctrinesMaintain your debate-ful cultureMake sure that falling on one’s face is not only safe, but respected

4. Optimize the User Experience: A Case Study in A/B Testing, with Netflix


Optimize the User Experience: A Case Study in A/B Testing, with Netflix, with Todd Yellin, VP of Product Innovation, NetflixNetflix started out as a more convenient alternative to brick-and-mortar video stores like Blockbuster. At this point, most of those stores no longer exist and Netflix is competing against Amazon, Hulu, and more for control of the streaming video space.What sets Netflix apart is its unique approach to user experience. Beyond just acquiring great content company has focused most of its efforts on connecting individual viewers with precisely the content they’ll enjoy, at a level of specificity heretofore unseen in the industry. Todd Yellin, VP of Product Innovation, explains the core principles by which Netflix continually refines its user experience.Big data is an enormous amount of trivial information that is only valuable when mined properly.Use big data wisely to create a more organic, personal user experience.Actual Behavior Trumps Qualitative ResearchQuali...

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