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Facebook’s hacker culture drives it

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

At Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg adopted an unusual motivational strategy from the start. Rather than prod employees to excel, he and his co-founders left them alone.

In Facebook’s early days in the mid-2000s, Zuckerberg gave his software engineers near-total autonomy. They bought into his lofty vision of helping create the “dream of a different human experience,” a far more sweeping goal than developing the dominant online social network.

Zuckerberg urged his engineers to see themselves as subversive hackers. He egged them on by making them feel like they were part of something special—working for an organization unlike any other.

To underscore this point, Zuckerberg and co-founder Dustin Moskovitz welcomed kindred spirits into the fold. When they learned that a college student, Chris Putnam, devised a computer virus that made a Facebook profile look like MySpace (an early competitor), they could have sued him or even enlisted the FBI to arrest him.

Instead, they invited Putnam to interview for a job. The charm offensive worked, and he became a star engineer at Facebook.

Another motivational technique favored by Zuckerberg involved the need for speed. He knew that Facebook’s success largely depended on its agility in a fast-moving, hotly competitive business. So he plastered office walls with the rallying cry, “DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.”

He made sure that employees celebrated the anniversary of their start date. They even called it their “Faceversary” and received surprise gifts from the company every year.

— Adapted from Chaos Monkeys, Antonio Garcia Martinez, Harper.

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