I’m pretty sure that if you asked the vast majority of Facebook employees about their organization’s core purpose, they wouldn’t say that it’s to make money at any cost. Yet right now, for the rest of us, it’s begun to feel as though that’s exactly what its core purpose has become.
For me this is because Facebook is yet another example of a human-created system that ultimately dehumanizes us. It has turned connection, emotion and community into so much digital code to be mined. This is because, just like the stock markets we've created, the system has come to value making money above all else.
When I researched a chapter on capitalism for my book Core, I sought out the thoughts of Colin Mayer, the Peter Moores Professor of Management Studies at the Säid Business School, Oxford and author of Firm Commitment.
Mayer’s thesis is that while corporations have brought us many good things – including extraordinary innovation, prosperity and employment - they’re also responsible for much that’s very bad, including poverty, pollution and a succession of financial crises. But he actually doesn’t blame the corporations, he blames the system they are slaves to for these failures. As he puts it:
“...unless there’s a fundamental root-and-branch change to the way shares in companies are held, boards and directors of corporations simply can’t change and will continue to fail us.”
He argues that our dependence on the current system won’t get us where we need to be because the system only promotes good conduct in relation to what it values and it values only one thing: profit.
Colin goes on to ask: “If the market values profit above all, do we share the same values?” Of course we don’t, and neither does Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else working in his company. So why has Facebook seemingly fallen into the profit-obsession trap?
I recently teamed up with Innate Motion whose sole (or soul) purpose is 'humanizing business'. It’s a simple, obvious, but compelling idea that is attracting corporations from around the world that want to change for good.
Christophe Fauconnier, Founder and CEO of Innate Motion, business humanizer, soul engineer and gusty disruptor thinks:
“Mark is good, his system was good, but like all systems that are homo-deus made they become bigger than us and they bring out the worst in us, not the best. Blaming Mark is wrong, we are all part of the problem and we can all be part of the solution. What Mark needs to re-humanize his system is not more technology, but more shared vulnerability that makes us better.”
This is a uniquely human and empathetic point of view. Leaders in business circles may feel uncomfortable with it but it’s true.
Fellow ‘business humanizer’ Yasmin Kathoria responded to my request for comments on the Facebook crisis by saying: “Personally I feel sad that a space which is about making the world more open and connected is making me feel more isolated.”
We should never forget the extraordinary gifts and subsequent generosity of Mark Zuckerburg and all the other giants of the business world who every day dedicate their minds and time to doing great things for people and our planet. The problem is that sadly these activities aren’t linked to the core purpose of their businesses. Yet they can be.
The fact is that not all systems are bad. For instance, Single Organizing Idea (SOI®) is a practical management tool that puts social purpose alongside growth at the core of a business and systematically changes it for the better over time. In other words, a system designed to reverse the polarity from ‘dehumanizing’ to its opposite.