Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook empire have been brought low by blindness. He failed to see that by aggregating surveillance data from 2.2B people worldwide he had created a potential hazard for humanity. Powerful, malign and manipulative forces have been unleashed and we are suffering the consequences. I argue that there is only one way to insure against this kind of catastrophic corporate blindness – a policy of ‘deliberate diversity’ in the team that creates and drives your strategy.
Strategy is a process that involves ‘seeing’ the system as it currently is. You strive to see the forces at play and what’s really going on in all dimensions of your business – especially the potentially invisible cultural ones. You notice what’s stuck. Once you can truly see things, the way forward becomes suddenly obvious. You can see what will unblock the system and cause it to flow better and faster to bring more value to more people. This is my experience and I know that building strategy has to be a team activity. One perspective is never enough. The successful future is always a synthesized view of multiple perspectives and that’s why it is so vital to include a diversity of people in the process of its generation. You must be curious, open minded and open-hearted too. Only then will people feel safe to speak up and share their views. Otherwise, part of the system will remain stubbornly invisible and your strategy will simply be wrong.
I suspect that the Facebook leadership team is far from diverse. Facebook’s ‘values based’ approach to recruitment makes interesting reading. As with all young and successful tech companies the overriding drive has been for innovation. To support this they have deliberately recruited bold, curious, optimistic risk takers. They have created a culture in which mistakes are encouraged and failure is learning. This has been admirable in many ways but I wonder whether a determined policy of recruiting in Mark’s own image is actually one root cause of their problem.
The Facebook strategy was clearly missing some vitally important perspectives. I bet these views were being called out by a few lone voices in the company. They were not heard. Were they labelled ‘negative’ and banished from the inner circle? Perhaps now Mark will realise their value, widen the circle and bring in a more balanced approach. A policy of deliberate diversity perhaps?