Useful Values

From Weekly I/O#39

Values are only useful if we can legitimately disagree with them since good values should explicitly indicate the tradeoff.

Podcast: Mark Zuckerberg on Long-Term Strategy, Business and Parenting Principles, Personal Energy Management, Building the Metaverse, Seeking Awe, the Role of Religion, Solving Deep Technical Challenges (e.g., AR), and More

In the latest Tim Ferriss' interview with Facebook/Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Mark talked about the six organizational values of Meta. [1]

He thinks values are only useful if we can legitimately disagree with them. Values like "be honest" are not that helpful because you obviously have to be honest. If you have to write that down, then something might go wrong already.

Therefore, if we only get to write down five or six concepts to code into the company's culture, we want them to be those things good companies can reasonably do differently.

Mark thinks good values are useful when they force us to give something up in order to get certain benefit. Take the most famous Facebook's value, "Move Fast," as an example:

"So around Move Fast, we've always had this question, you can't just tell people to move fast. The question is: what's the deal? What are you willing to give up? And famously, it used to be Move Fast and Break Things. And the idea was that we tolerated some amount of bugs in the software in order to encourage people to move quickly. Because moving fast, I think, is the key to learning. You want to increase the iteration cycle so that way you can get feedback from the people you serve quickly, and then incorporate that into the product. So we would literally get into situations where competitors of us would ship once a year, once every six months, and we'd ship code every day. Of course we're going to learn faster, and we're going to build something better if you're shipping something every day. So the question is: what are you willing to give up?" [2]

Useful values should be embedded with the indication of their tradeoff. This view is also related to what the COO of Yahoo, Dan Rosensweig, said: "Every organization sucks, but you get to choose the ways in which your organization sucks".

[1] Meta's current six values are: "Move Fast", "Focus on Long-Term Impact", "Build Awesome Things", "Live in the Future", "Be Direct and Respect Your Colleagues", "Meta, Metamates, Me". It is interesting to compare these with Amazon's Leadership Principles, which indicate conflict directly within principles, and the tradeoff depends more on the employee's decision.

[2] Transcript from: The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts.

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