tim-campos-productivityI had the pleasure of listening to an exceptional presentation last week by Timothy Campos, the former CIO at Facebook, and I wanted to share some of the highlights from his talk with you. Tim was one of the many world-class speakers and presenters at the 2017 CIO Executive Summit in Greenwich last week. It was an absolutely extraordinary event, with a truly valuable program of keynotes, panels and breakout sessions.

As many of you know, Facebook’s IT organization was a pioneering example of running IT in the cloud. As Facebook’s first CIO, Tim quickly learned that achieving Facebook’s long-term scaling objectives would require a transformational approach to IT strategy. The transformation would impact everything from the role and mission of the IT organization to the underlying technologies that would make it all possible.

Over a six-year period of transformation, Facebook’s revenue increased by over 20x, its workforce increased by 10x, and profit increased by a whopping 100x. From my perspective, that success clearly demonstrates the value of transformational IT leadership and strategy.

To a large degree, Facebook’s success is a product of its culture, which embraces failure and creates “white space” for continuous innovation.

“Failure is synonymous with learning,” says Tim. In other words, without failure, there can be no genuine progress. If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never push the envelope and rise to the next level.

Facebook also understands the value of allotting time or “white space” for creative thinking. The company’s internal hackathons are now legendary, and for good reason: they are an engine for continuous innovation and creativity.  

Facebook’s overwhelming success proves the essential necessity of developing, nurturing and supporting a great culture. Having the courage to fail means you have to trust the company and its leaders. Facebook’s commitment to a culture of continuous innovation is built on a solid foundation of trust. 

Tim gave several examples of “cultural memes” that express the Facebook ethos:

  • Fail harder
  • Move fast and break things
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Does your organization embrace failure and reward creativity? Are you providing the kind of leadership that achieves steady innovation, higher productivity and increased business value?

We can all learn valuable lessons from Facebook’s example, and I’m delighted that Tim shared his exceptional insight and first-hand knowledge with us.