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I’m updating my status from facebook. review of Matt Millichick’s opening session #RIS11


It’s great to be in Facebook. I know it’s just a building but i get the real feeling of innovation that seeps out of the fabric of the place. It might be my crazy imagination, but you can sense it. People want to innovate. Hats off to Dave Manaster and the team at ERE for making this happen.
In the opening address, Conference Chair Susan Strayer said 2 things that stood out. The first was not to copy anything you see today at the Recruiting Innovation Summit. Not because what you’ve heard won’t work, it already has, but because it has been done before.
The point here is that you should listen and take ideas from what others have done, but you should do somthing unique. Be brave and be prepared to fail. there is no presentation that is going on today that worked first time. I’ve blogged before about trying and failing, and why that is important. Nothing is ever 100% right, the challenge is keeping trying and doing somthing new. if you can imagine it, theres a way to do it.
I will be live blogging and updating from Facebook today, with special thanks to Lorri from Scavido, (check out the automated bullion search engine she has built) who has lant me a macboook when my power failed. Will try to keep you up to day.
The opening keynote comes from Facebook, talking innovation. They see their competitive edge as being able to scale super fast. As a business, Facebook grew from 300 to 3000 staff in 3 years. The ratio of users to engineers is 1 to 1mn. The place is full of posters to help keep the message out there while the company grows at susch a rate. Things like: Move fast and break things. Be afraid of not failing. Proceed and be bold. The messages are really clear. While they are the very modern tech company, the business is built on rebellious values. I like that, and it shows how the business has become what it is. It’s all about trying, with no fear of failing.
One of the big ways Facebook develops is the quarterly hackathon. The staff get together for 8 hours and build something new. They do anything but their job. innovation that has come out of the hackathon are things like the like button, Facebook video and chat, comment tagging, PHP for HipHop. They also take the hackathon and host them on campuses to promote the Facebook innovation as an employer, and they get to see the best students in action. Doing rather than talking.
Hackathons are run in targeted colleges, promoted through a fan page, promoted by targeted ads to bring people in. I think this targeted recruiting and culture promotion through the same channels to recruit the best engineers.
The Facebook culture is described as Go be a ninja. New starters attend a 3 week bootcamp to embed them in the unique FB way of doing things. The engineers get to pick and choose which team they want to work with, and how they can make best impact. People are trusted from day one. Engineers get access to live code on day one, and can change code from week one. This might sound scarey, but it gives the message from day one that we trust you. We believe in you.
From your first day you can make a difference, and the product is built around hackathon developments. In terms of retention, one of the initiatives is each year, engineers can take a hack month and go and work on a brand new project away from their job. There’s continuous blogs and updates on progress and projects, and this is the ultimate employer branding. I love the thinking towards people, and this, perhaps more than anything else explains the success of Facebook. it is down to having a creative culture, and being social with it.
Oh, and the other thing I learnt, Marriott are hiring a replacement for Susan Strayer. Check her out to see what the job is. If I lived in the U.S, I’d want it.

Bill

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