Ever since I read reconsider 2 years ago I started rethinking what it meant for a business to be successful. In the article, DHH admonishes people to:

Examine and interrogate your motivations, reject the money if you dare, and startup something useful. A dent in the universe is plenty. Curb your ambition. Live happily ever after.

Recently, I sent a mail to the New York Times hoping it would be shared on their letter to editor’s page — A page where responses from readers to articles are shared publicly. It was a response to an article written by Charlie Warzelabout the malpractices and compromises big tech companies have to make to “succeed” and what motivates this trend.

A few excerpts from the article

Facebook: Growth at any cost. It’s a mantra familiar inside Facebook as well, as an internal memo surfaced last year by BuzzFeed News revealed.

Youtube: Employee fears “were sacrificed for engagement.” Ambitious goals were set to hit one billion hours of viewing a day, and algorithms were tweaked accordingly. “We were so in the weeds trying to hit our goals and drive usage of the site,” one former senior manager confessed in the piece, “I don’t know if we really picked up our heads.”

Twitter: “I did see a lot of decisions being made in terms of growth when it came to how to handle abuse, which I get,” Leslie Miley, a former engineering manager at Twitter, told me at the time.

He basically talks about how Big tech companies compromise on their values to achieve growth in the article. At the end of the piece, Charlie asks “How can the mess be unwound? Can it be fixed? Those are the complicated questions.” so I made an attempt to start a conversation around the way forward.

At the end of the piece, Charlie asks “How can the mess be unwound? Can it be fixed? Those are the complicated questions.” so I made an attempt to start a conversation around the way forward.

My Response

I agree with the writer’s perspective and explanation on why Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have become hotbeds for extremism, propaganda and bigotry. The motivation for companies to do better and grow bigger should be accompanied by the right guiding values and principles.

To take this conversation further I believe there are 3 questions we need to start asking these companies or these companies need to constantly keep asking themselves:

  • How do our values enable us to achieve our goals? This helps put things in perspective because companies easily forget that values and goals complement each other. Values aren’t obstructions on the path to achieving a company’s goals.
  • What values are you not willing to compromise on as you seek growth? A constant reminder that it’s easy to lose sight of these values in the pursuit of greatness. Companies should start saying what they’d say No to as often as what they stand for.
  • What does compromising on those values look like to you? This is quite important because it reduces the ability to hide behind ambiguity. No more assumptions.

And while it’s common knowledge that how companies go about arriving at their goals is often filled with ethical dilemmas, let’s not forget that a business is a collection of choices and every day is a new chance to make new choices, different choices that would put greed in check.

 

Thanks to Oyinkan and Kesi for reading the first draft of this article.

Thanks for reading, I hope you learned something from my post. You can reach out on any platform @danieltadeyemi,  you can sign up for my newsletter to get monthly updates on my progress or what I’m learning.

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