I recently picked up a copy of Fortune Magazine with an article that caught my attention- The Re-Education of Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook, undoubtedly one of the most familiar websites on the planet. Jesse Hempel, the story-teller, begins with the bold statement- Zuckerberg made a bad decision and before she finishes the first paragraph quotes Mark as saying “It’s probably one of the biggest mistakes we’ve ever made.” As an admirer of well-made missteps and bold confessions, I couldn’t resist.
Hempel explains that in 2011, despite being one of the biggest players in the social-networking era, Zuckerberg and his team missed the next big shift in technology- that of consumers abandoning laptops for mobile devices.“[Zuckerberg] had to come to terms with failure, and he had to make sweeping structural and cultural changes at the young company- moves that often went against his instincts.”
The story describes a retooling of the entire organization which included huge risks which made Zuckerberg very uncomfortable. In the midst of the year-long retooling process, users complained and investors decried incompetence. The retooling process was a painful yet necessary series of addressing the companies most pressing priority- that of becoming a mobile company.
The priorities at Facebook also required that Facebook developers pick sides- choosing to use Google’s Android platform rather than Apple’s iOS. Mark recognized that this decision might have implications in the future which might once again require additional retooling. Fortunately, Zuckerberg and his team have weathered change, learned how to overhaul themselves, and make tough calls.
This retooling story at Facebook is not unlike much of what I see in professional fundraising today- the need for a retooling of our enterprise and a determination to move in a different direction despite our instincts. We have to establish priorities for where we will invest limited resources and make tough calls in order to do so.
Leave a comment- Google will be grateful!