Monday, July 13, 2015

In a Big Company... It's the Little Things

“Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem.” 
What a beautiful idea.

Caitlin Winner, design manager at Facebook, undertook the task of updating Facebook's profile icons. It was a self-initiated project, that started when Winner noticed a divet in the shoulder of the original women icon.

Struck by inspiration, (and possibly a little bit of obsession), Winner set about fixing the shoulder, which spiraled into creating a new set of icons. She sent the new drawings out to the team, unsure if she was stepping on any toes, before long, the icons began updating and appearing within the Facebook platform.

These are subtle changes, that probably seem frivolous to most Facebook users, but when interpreted, they actually modernize Facebook.

Having worked in corporate, I'm familiar with a world that involves meetings, deliberations and committees, and takes months to accomplish inconsequential change. I'm impressed with Facebook for how seamlessly this was implemented.
It shows what can happen when people are empowered to make decisions and process change. I applaud Winner for being self-motivated and having the foresight to take on a project without being asked. And those around her, for not holding up the process, for taking it, and not sitting on it, but pushing it forward.

It is rare that people are invigorated with the spirit to not respond "not my problem" when an error is brought to their attention. This is a bad habit that human beings have adopted, not only at work but in life, and the world. 

If a company can inspire a work culture where people are inspired to initiate their own projects, it is possible for simple ideas to become reality and often with relatively little effort and time lost.

For more on the concept of meeting less and working more, check out Jason Fried's TED Talk on Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work.

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