On Friday March 25, 2011, I had an opportunity to hear Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook and Senator Orrin Hatch speak to a group at Brigham Young University. The event was held at the Marriott Center and was Mark Zuckerberg’s first time speaking to a University audience that large. There were about 10,000 students there.
Zuckerberg spoke about technology, innovation, public policy and took questions from the crowd. He brought 10 other Facebook employees with him, 3 of whom were BYU Alumni.
During the event, he hit on several points that are relevant for change agents and for those leading implementations of excellence within their organizations – whether it be a Lean Deployment or Six Sigma or Process Improvement or Continuous Improvement – whatever. I thought you might be interested in his comments and how they might be relevant for you.
No Heroes, Just the Team
Regarding the success of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said the following:
One thing that gets blown out of proportion in our culture is the emphasis on the single person or the couple of people who are running something. A lot of people might know who I am, but the success of Facebook is really all about the team that we built. I think in any company that’s going to be true.
This is relevant for any change agent involved in changing the culture of a company or in introducing new ways of thinking or new ways of working in an organization. Often, the leaders and change agents are the ones in the spotlight, but the team and the broader work force should be recognized as well – indeed, probably more so.
Believe The Company is Broken
[ad#Chitika-1]One of the questions from the audience was about the qualities Mark Zuckerberg looks for in potential employees hoping to work at Facebook. He said something quite relevant and refreshing to hear. I paraphrase,
I don’t want people to join Facebook for what it is, but for what it can be with their help. I almost want people to think it’s broken and then they join to help us fix the company.
This was quite refreshing to hear. I often hear the opposite, from those dedicated to uphold the facade that everything is perfect in their organization, department, or company. Zuckerberg has no false misconceptions and doesn’t take offense to those calling “his baby ugly”. Instead, as a true leader should, he wants help on improving his company, Facebook.
I felt that this message was very good and relevant. It was also very refreshing to hear. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Mark Zuckerberg might even be a student of the Toyota Production System. His comment and tone above aligns perfectly to the central message of lean.
All Problems are Human Problems
When Mark Zuckerberg was asked about what students should study in college or university to be competitive for employment at Facebook, he provided and answer that I think was a big surprise to many in attendance. He said,
All of these problems at the end of the day are human problems . . .
The things that people are really most interested in are what’s going on with the people they care about. It’s all about giving people the tools and the controls that they need to be comfortable sharing the information that they want. If you do that, then you can create a very valuable service.
A lot of what we’re doing is as much psychology and sociology as it is technology.
He then said that was actually a Psychology and Computer Science double major during the short time he spent at Harvard before he dropped out to start Facebook.
This is quite relevant: amidst the tools, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, or whatever flavor of Process Improvement you’re involved in, we’re really dealing with human problems. They might first appear as problems in process, but they eventually boil down to people problems.
My Thoughts on the Event
I was quite impressed with Mark Zuckerberg. The glamorized and dramatized person on the movie The Social Network and the Mark Zuckerberg on stage were two very different people. The Mark Zuckerberg on stage seemed thoughtful, sincere, caring, warm – heck, just a good down to earth guy. I’m glad I went; I learned something new for having attended.
Below are a few pictures of Mark Zuckerberg and videos from the event, courtesy of BYU.