Making Mark Zuckerberg’s Business Philosophy Work

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...Image via CrunchBase

The central way Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg works can be summed up in his often repeated mandate to his staff: “Move fast and break things.”

What Zuckerberg is talking about has two dimensions:

1. That speed needs to be a key component of how his people work. If they don’t have a sense of urgency then it’s unlikely that they’ll achieve anything substantial quickly. As businesses grow (and Facebook is no different) layers of bureaucracy develop that impede rapid progress. That must be countered by elevating the speed at which teams work.

(This sense of urgency was also identified as a key component of many other successful businesses. See Professor John Kotter’s work at Harvard on corporate urgency).

2. That no great achievements will occur unless Facebook’s staff maintain a spirit of challenging the status quo, even to the point of destroying what is already accepted as being best practice.

(This concept is similar to the Austrian American economist Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of ‘creative destruction’ ).

Zuckerberg urges his teams to keep these two mind filters front of mind, to ensure they don’t rest on Facebook’s existing achievements and that they keep pace with social media’s breakneck pace of progress.

We all should do the same.

A simple and effective way to do this is by continually following two strategies consistently.

1. Set Short, Unreasonable Deadlines. 

Only be putting time pressure on both yourself and your staff are you likely to push both to achieve at an unusually fast rate. Follow normal, reasonable deadlines and your chances of being faster than your competitors are low. Time pressure almost always brings out the best in people of talent.

2. Always Ask, ‘How Would the Next Great Company In My Sector Do This? ‘

We need to stop aiming for best of category and start thinking major disruption. The first gives you progress and perhaps brief leadership, the second gives you a chance at really changing the game and establishing medium to long term dominance.

In today’s uber fast business world, Zuckerberg’s simple philosophy is a potent mind tool to get the most out of yourself and your people. The two strategies above will help you bring that philosophy to life in the day to day running of your business.

Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg”  by Ekatrina Walter

All great achievements start with passion. Passion is what fuels everything. Passion is what motivates you, whether your motivations are spiritual, artistic, political, economic, social, or personal. You know that you are passionate about something when you become restless, when you wake up every morning knowing that you cannot not create whatever it is that you are passionate about.

Passion is what shapes your purpose, in life and in business. When the idea for a venture starts taking shape, purpose is what ultimately helps define it. If you rally around the purpose and build a culture around it, you will meet success; if you lose your way, you will meet failure.

The success of your mission will depend on a lot of factors, one of the most critical of them is people – employees you hire and those you partner with. Whether you are a growing business or an established one, if you don’t have a team that shares your vision, your dream, and your goals, the business will not be able to reach its potential. No matter how you look at it, no matter which field you are in, no matter how brilliant your ideas are, success is a team sport. You can imagine the most amazing products or services in the world, but it requires people to make your dream a reality. That’s where culture and leadership become important.

Think Like Zuck

Think Like Zuck

In the book “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg Ekaterina  talk about the philosophy of notable leaders of our time. “Think Like Zuck” is an analogy of a leader who follows his passion, leads with purpose, builds great teams, and strives for continued excellence in her product (or services). It is a mentality that drives great leaders to building successful business and the approach they use to doing so. Facebook and its visionary Mark Zuckerberg are used as just one of the example of a leader who has a clear purpose in front of him and for whom that purpose drives all of his major personal and business decisions.

Zuckerberg believes that the world is moving toward radical transparency. To him, the information flow online shouldn’t be encumbered by, well, anything. He believes there should be no borders, no restrictions, no limitations on not only the way people connect and communicate online but in the way information is created, consumed, and shared.

In building Facebook, Zuckerberg was extremely focused on ensuring that the social graph he helped create online would be transparent and authentic. Authenticity is everything to him. Facebook was created on a principle of real-life identity and is intended to enhance your relationships with people you know in real life. One is not able to build trust inside online communities if one’s identity isn’t consistent and known to others. Hence, Facebook’s restriction of allowing only one profile per person. Believe it or not, people have been banned for creating multiple profiles. Facebook was the first social network to introduce this rule and demand compliance with it. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity,” says Facebook’s CEO.  “The level of transparency the world has now won’t support having two identities for a person.”  He believes that such transparency will also help build a healthier society.

Throughout the existence of the social network, Zuck stuck to his passion and to the purpose of Facebook’s creation. He always ensured that users came first and revenue second. Over the past eight years, he has been criticized for sacrificing revenue for users’ interests. But he always sailed his course. “I never wanted to run a company,” Zuckerberg said. “To me a business is a good vehicle for getting stuff done.” His belief in his company and its purpose was so strong, he declined to sell it over and over, even when Yahoo executives offered him $1 billion.

Money isn’t a priority to him; he is more interested in building something genuinely amazing than selling out. For the longest time, he rented a small apartment and slept on a mattress on the floor. He drove an Acura TSX. He doesn’t have fancy clothes, preferring T-shirts and hoodies. In the letter that accompanied the IPO, Zuck wrote: “Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.” In that he reminds me of Steve Jobs and his quote from a 1993 Wall Street Journal interview: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”

“The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’ . . . Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I’m not going to feel good about how I’m spending my time. And that’s what this company is.” says Zuckerberg.

Zuck’s business interests always aligned closely with his personal philosophy. He even encourages his employees to work on the projects they are passionate about, not the ones that are forcefully assigned to them. What an incredible way to take advantage of not only human competence, but full human potential. And what a great reminder to lead with purpose.

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