Scaling Culture | Jason Kilar, former Hulu CEO | Summary and Q&A

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Scaling Culture | Jason Kilar, former Hulu CEO


The speaker shares insights on culture, emphasizing the importance of being explicit about values, walking the talk, and implementing effective mechanisms to scale culture in organizations.

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Key Insights

  • 🔍 Culture is how people act when no one is looking, and it greatly influences the success of a company.
  • 🏰 Disney's success in creating a high-quality experience can be attributed, in part, to their explicit culture, which focused on attention to detail and quality.
  • 🛍️ Amazon's success in scaling can be attributed to their explicit values and principles, as outlined in their 14 leadership principles.
  • ⚖️ Amazon's culture values healthy debate and challenge, as leaders are expected to disagree and commit, without compromising for social cohesion.
  • 👞 Amazon's "Just Do It" award was an effective mechanism to encourage employees to take initiative and make decisions that align with the company's values and principles.
  • 🔍 Companies should be both magnets and repellents with their culture, attracting those who align with their values while repelling those who don't.
  • ⚙️ Mechanisms, such as Disney University and the "Just Do It" award, are crucial for scaling culture and ensuring it remains consistent as the company grows.
  • 👥 While it's important to be flexible and experiment with mechanisms, the values and principles of a company should remain steadfast and explicit.


so my name is Jason was asked to speak about culture and and I'm going to do it through two lenses my observations about culture and then really importantly for that for this day is my observations of how to efficiently scale culture and I wanted to share with you sort of the places that I've invested a lot of my professional time of the last 20 ye... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How does the speaker define culture in the context of an organization?

The speaker defines culture as "how we act when no one is looking," emphasizing that it is determined by our behavior and decisions in moments of solitude or when facing challenges.

Q: What was the speaker's inspiration for studying culture, particularly at Disney?

The speaker's inspiration for studying culture at Disney came from his childhood experience of visiting the Magic Kingdom and being amazed by the attention to detail, quality, and storytelling. This experience sparked his curiosity about how Disney achieved such a high level of performance compared to other amusement parks.

Q: What were the three key elements of Walt Disney's approach to culture, as mentioned by the speaker?

The three key elements were being explicit about the desired culture, walking the talk by embodying the values and principles, and creating mechanisms (such as Disney University) to ensure consistency and scale the culture across the organization.

Q: How did Amazon scale its culture effectively according to the speaker?

Amazon scaled its culture effectively by being explicit about its values through the creation of 14 leadership principles. It also emphasized the importance of individual judgment and action through mechanisms such as the "Just Do It" award, which rewarded employees who exhibited good judgment and took initiative aligned with the company's values.

Q: How did Hulu approach defining its culture, and why did the speaker choose his own approach for the company?

At Hulu, the speaker and his team defined the company's culture by writing a document titled "What defines Hulu," which expressed challenging and not universally-accepted narratives. The speaker chose this approach to attract individuals who resonated with the values and principles of Hulu while repelling those who would not be a good fit. This ensured that the culture was authentic and effective for the company's goals.


Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker discusses the importance of culture by sharing his experiences with Disney, Amazon, and Hulu.

  • He emphasizes the need to be explicit about company values and principles, as well as walking the talk to set an example for employees.

  • The speaker also highlights the importance of implementing mechanisms to scale culture and mentions specific examples from Amazon and Hulu.

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