Mission Before Money

Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.

Mark Zuckerberg, Feb. 1, 2012

You’ve probably heard:  Facebook is going public.  They’ve filed to become a public traded company.

In the letter attached to S-1 document filing, Zuckerberg has outlined how “business as usual” was never a driving force for Facebook.

He writes,

Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.

Now, I realize one could get cynical about this statement.  You might be thinking,

Easy for him to say!  This is a 27 year old guy who stands to be worth about $24 Billion when this thing goes public!

We can debate Zuckerberg’s “true” motives ’til the cows come home.  But one thing that is clear about Zuckerberg and his company:  he’s winning the Silicon Valley war on talent.  He’s managed to poach of some of the best and brightest from other tech companies to come and work at Facebook.  He’s raided many of the best employees from Google (recently ranked as the #1 Company to work for in the USA.)

You don’t achieve that by giving lip service to mission and purpose:  you have to live it.

Zuckerberg sees the mission of his organization as serving a global societal need.  As he writes,

There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future. The scale of the technology and infrastructure that must be built is unprecedented, and we believe this is the most important problem we can focus on.

Facebook’s culture and management philosophy is based on what they call the Hacker Way.  Some highlights include:

  • Hacking is not negative.  It’s about testing the boundaries of what’s possible.   It can be a force for good or bad.
  • Hacking is about continuous improvement.   It’s about constant incremental improvements, rather than getting it all “perfect”.  On their offices, they have written “Done is better than perfect.”
  • Hacker culture is open and meritocratic.  Best ideas, not top people, win.

Out of the Hacker Way comes Facebook’s core values:

  • Focus on Impact
  • Move Fast
  • Be Bold
  • Be Open
  • Build Social Value

Big ideas for a company.  Zuckerberg himself recognizes that how this macro-view is reflected in the micro-view.  He writes,

Even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people.

If you step back and reflect on the greater mission of  your organization, how is it being lived day to day?

What supports it?

What gets in the way?

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