I felt the CEO of NetFlix attempted to make a connection with his customers in a personal sort of way, when he sent that letter of apology with some brutally-honest-sounding words in the message. Not long ago, if you remember, the CEO of Nokia sent another brutally direct message to his employees about their company being on a burning platform.
In my view, this is becoming the new code for perception management, especially when things go wrong. This is especially true of consumer-focused industries, which tend to be closer to customers and employees. I mean, when was the last time you got a letter on these lines from a big and failed bank CEO?
Of course, we would never like CEOs to be wrong — especially when they affect our lives, choices and our money. But when something does go wrong, would you prefer a confession (like NetFlix/ Nokia) or denial (like Lehman)?
PS: The NetFlix CEO did a good job of sending a detailed message on his company blog and chose to send a more concise version on his email, but someone in his staff team thought making it more concise just means having Microsoft Word auto-summarize the message. When you read both, that’s what I felt like — especially when some of the sentences appeared more complete and meaningful in the long-form.