At Netflix, where she was chief talent officer for 14 years, Patty McCord helped develop the Netflix Culture Deck, a blueprint to build a workplace driven by innovation and creativity rather than policies and performance reviews.

Now principal of Patty McCord Consulting, McCord advises a select group of entrepreneurs on practices that lead people to excel every day. Before she brings her experience to the Waterloo Innovation Summit as a keynote speaker on Sept. 16, McCord shared some of her thoughts and knowledge about the role that employees play in innovation, disruption and growth.

Q: What are the key determinants for a workplace environment that embraces innovation?

mccord factbox

A: Be open: The most important thing you can have is transparency and communication. All. The. Time.

I don’t think we spend as much time as we should educating everyone in a company how the company works. People should be able to rattle off — at whatever level they are in a company — what’s the revenue stream, who’s the competition, how do we make money, the basics of business. It’s a combination of transparency and education.

Take risks: All startups are crazy ideas. You have to understand that. Startups are full of young people who do weird stuff. You don’t actually want in an early stage company a lot of people with experience because they’ll say it can’t be done and it’s never going to work.

Be collaborative: The old-fashioned companies with very large silos, they still exist (but) they can’t move very fast. Most innovative companies work very collaboratively. When they’re working on something, a couple of things, they have transparency to what their customers want and need. It’s real-time connection with the consumer.

To read the rest of this interview, visit the Waterloo Innovation Summit blog.

About The Author

Bill Bean

Bill Bean is an award-winning journalist with 40 years experience who has been writing about innovation in Waterloo Region for three years, and who has a weakness for grandchildren, bicycles and chocolate.