The Bastardization of Facebook’s Motto

“Move fast and break things.”

I have heard it time and time again, but always out of context. It’s great to quote though when you want to encourage people to get things done. As long as you can live with the consequences of them well, breaking things. That isn’t exactly what the motto means though. Unlike the catchy phrase, it takes a few more words to explain.

To set the stage for this statement, people should understand the environment of Facebook. Of course, everyone has heard about their “brogramers” and parties, but there is a lot more to their management than that. Facebook employees are regularly rotating jobs, understanding the big picture, and learning about how each job impacts the others. They are taught to have an appreciation for various aspects of the company. It’s that training that allows them to, “move fast and [not actually] break things.”

Unlike the layman understanding of the phrase, it isn’t a mantra in support of chaos and anarchy. It’s actually promoting in-depth training and a commitment to constant employee education. Just a few of the things that you need if you expect your employees to feel safe breaking things in the name of productivity.

Many company’s may think that they have enough training for their employees to support this method of management, but it may be a more time-consuming project than many realize. At Facebook, one month of the year employees will be sent to work with another group on different projects. If you’re unfamiliar with programing, this would require the programer to read through and understand thousands of lines of code before they could even begin work. It’s an astoundingly slow process, but they remain committed.

If you didn’t catch that let me reiterate, one month of every year they spend doing a new job. 1/12th of the time they are learning. Can you imagine if every company was that way? Facebook admits that this program has interrupted important projects, set deadlines back, and yet, they remain committed to it.

It’s an impressive company that can commit to their employees to such a degree. While competitors may be short sighted, Facebook is willing to put a considerable investment of time into their employees to allow them the freedom of autonomy.


  1. Nikki

    Good read and I agree! Let’s keep in touch 😉

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