Defining a mission or purpose should be a starting point in business strategy formulation. It gives people working on a project a set of objectives they can relate to and be committed to. Christopher Cox, the Vice president of product at Facebook was the person behind the development of Facebook’s mission, values and people strategy.
Facebook’s mission is ‘To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected’ (Facebook’s official website) It was edited in 2008, prior to that it stated ‘Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.’ This change in Facebook’s mission statement reflect Levitt’s theory (1960) that every company should ask itself the fundamental questions to define its business purpose: 1. What business are we in?
2. What business do we want to be in? (Hooley et. al. 2011) When the company first started it was simply a communication tool but it gradually developed to be more than that. It wanted to give people control over what they share and how they share it. Facebook empowered its users. It also changed its focus by being more open and allowing people beyond the Ivy Leagues to join the site.(www.observer.com)
Hooley et. al. discuss the elements that make up an effective mission statement. It should be focused around following elements:
1. Strategic intent- vision of what you want to be. Facebook’s mission clearly states what it is that the company wants to achieve , that is to open up the world and connect everyone. But it does not provide details of fundamental things like which market it operates in , how big it wants to be, geographical scope etc 2. Company values- guiding principles. These are detailed on the company’s website (see below). They do not appear in the mission statement. 3. Core skills –distinctive competencies of the organisation. It should clearly state what differentiates the organisation from others, what makes it special? It could be argued that by giving people power company differentiates itself from other social networks, as it puts great emphasis on letting consumers decide how they want to share information. 4. Market definition- target customers, who we seek to serve and what needs of customers will be served? Target market in Facebook’s example seems to be ‘the world’. It is going to serve the world by enabling universal connection. 5. Strategic intent- mission should say where the organisation is and where it wants to be positioned in the marketplace. This change of vision mentioned above was reflected in change to its mission statement in 2008.
In an interview in 2006 Mark Zucherberg said "A lot of companies get grouped as social networking. Lots are dating sites, or media sites or sites for community. But our mission is helping people understand the world around them…We're not trying to be a portal, or to maximize the time spent on our site," (http://money.cnn.com/2006/10/06/magazines/fortune/fastforward_facebook.fortune/index.htm )
Originally Facebook was founded to provide a social utility to connect students with other students from the same University. It than spread worldwide and enabled everyone aged over 13 with a valid e-mail address to sign up and open a Facebook account. According to company’s official website ‘Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.’ It also develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information. This clear statement summarises the company’s purpose of being a social networking site, but it expands beyond obvious by adding that they are also innovators and technology developers. ‘Trusted environment’ differentiates Facebook from its competitors by underlining that using Facebook is safe, controlled and depends on users. People can chose who to interact with , privacy settings and options...