Learning from Facebook executive departures

The departures of key executives from Facebook last week are the latest over the past 18 months.  They highlight a number of key lessons in strategy and strategy implementation:

  1. Leaders must make the key decisions.  While leaders will look for input from others on decisions, it is the leader who has ultimate accountability for corporate direction and success. Leaders make tough decisions.  The leader who leads by consensus isn’t leading at all.  The Facebook executives who left disagreed with Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s strategic turn.
  2. Companies can outgrow key people.  I see this regularly in all size organizations.  The person who is the franchise player for years, eventually becomes an impediment to the organization’s evolution, innovation, and growth.  This presents a difficult decision — one that is often ignored or deferred.  In Facebook’s case, these senior executives no doubt walked away with significant packages.  For a smaller company, the transition is far more difficult, but no less necessary.
  3. Sometimes a company needs to make a very significant change in their strategy to survive and grow.  Facebook is under enormous pressure to change its business model.  For many other companies, the pressure to change is not so intense, but the need to change course is important.

A capable leader, a distinctive strategy and an organization intensely focused on the strategy are the three hallmarks of success. 

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