Facebook just changed its mission statement. Do you even have one?

Mark Zuckerberg has just announced that, after ten years, Facebook is changing its mission statement.

The old mission statement “Make the world more open and connected.” has been changed to

Bring the world closer together.

Curb your skepticism

 

Yes, yes… I can sympathize with all the skeptics out there – I used to be one.

On the surface, it sounds like a fluffy, feel-good PR, that companies with revenues that top the GDP of many countries come up with to humanize themselves. And to a degree, it is. Especially the parts that deal with the motivation.

If you read through the announcement, all the usual suspects are there: female activist, war veteran, a dog, a hard-working everyday man…

The immediate effects

 

For the sake of this post, however, I am going to leave aside Zuckerberg’s globalism and the somewhat bland announcement. It is beside the point – what I find interesting is what happened as a result.

People actually care

 

Just a day after the announcement, there is more than 50k news articles about the Facebook’s new mission statement. Point being, it matters and people care. Obviously, Facebook is phenomenally popular company – but still, I find it interesting how much interest this generated.

Mission shapes roadmap

 

Directly in the announcement, Mark Zuckerberg said following:

So we started a project to see if we could get better at suggesting groups that will be meaningful to you. We started building artificial intelligence to do this. And it works! In the first 6 months, we helped 50% more people join meaningful communities.

In a TechCrunch piece, Chris Cox, CPO at Facebook, also added following:

Missions have a way of becoming how we talk about what we’re doing and justify things to one another

Goals are derived from mission statement

 

To give credibility to the new mission statement, as well as to make success measurable, Mark Zuckerberg also set following goal:

So now we’re setting a goal — to help one billion people join meaningful communities.

Lessons from Facebook

 

Regardless of what one thinks of the Facebook’s new mission statement, I found some valuable lessons in the general mechanics:

  • Mission statement is important and people care
    The media and general population will not go crazy about your mission statement, but do your employees, your customers or even you know what is your mission? Why are you doing whatever it is that you are doing?
  • Mission statement is not timeless
    Missions get accomplished or circumstances change (Kodak?). It’s ok to tweak or change your mission.
  • Company goals stem from the mission
    Without a mission, goals are arbitrary and even if one achieves them – what does it exactly mean?
  • Mission statement has profound effect on day to day work
    As we’ve seen from Facebook, product roadmap, goals, initiatives and even the way people talk about things depends on mission statement. So, one should not underestimate it.
  • Huge company – one sentence
    Even a company such as Facebook, that has thousands of features, owns Whatsapp, Instagram and Oculus among other things – can distill it’s mission statement into one sentence. So, surely, it must be possible for the rest of us, to do it in less than 3 paragraphs.

For more on mission statements, you can check our older posts: