It’s safe to say Facebook had a tumultuous 2017. Problems of fake news, hate speech, security and privacy concerns, and increased scrutiny meant that the world’s largest social media platform ended the year on a rather uncertain note. There is increasing clamour for the platform to take a look and refresh itself to solve the concerns of its users, and Founder Mark Zuckerberg has revealed he is making these goals his mission. In a recent post on Facebook, he stated that his New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to focus on fixing the issues with the platform and enabling better user experiences.
The 33-year-old CEO has an annual tradition of posting his New Year’s Resolutions on the platform. From increasing his reading frequency to creating a new house-management AI, Mark’s past resolutions have ranged from the forward-looking to the introspective. His 2018 resolution is more than just a public admission of the problems plaguing Facebook – it’s a commitment to working to solve them in the coming year. It’s a bold step, and one with some important lessons for every entrepreneur.
As one grows in stature and success, it can be tempting to ignore and dismiss the criticism directed at you by people who don’t see things your way. Not everybody shares your vision, and there are always going to be naysayers who have no constructive criticism to offer despite numerous complaints. But completely ignoring all your critics runs the risk of creating an “echo chamber”, an environment where you get no external feedback and hence are unaware of real-world sensibilities. If you want to succeed, avoid this at all costs. An insulated environment is terrible for growth, and you need diverse opinions to understand the best way of building your organisation.
More important than being open to criticism, however, is publicly acknowledging your mistakes. As an entrepreneur, if you know your organisation has widespread issues, there is no shame in admitting to them and resolving to solve them. If anything, this will garner you the respect of your consumers who value authenticity more than false bravado; admit your faults when you know you’re in the wrong, and you might actually attract new consumers impressed by your honesty and willingness to improve.
Mark ends his New Year Resolution with, “This will be a serious year of self-improvement and I'm looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together.” Irrespective of whether Facebook actually does get its act together in 2018 or not, Mark’s admission and resolve will definitely help him regain some of the trust he may have lost. Entrepreneurs would do well to take note.