Map vs. compass at Facebook

August 12, 2012 · 1 min read

From an article by Andrew Bosworth from a few years ago (emphasis added):

The path Facebook took to connecting everyone in the world was not the shortest and that has made all the difference... if we had tried to jump straight to the end state, we would have never gotten it right.

In technology we are constantly looking to the future and trying to see things the way they could be. Once we have a vision we want to work towards we tend to choose the shortest path to get to that place. On projects of sufficiently narrow scope this is clearly the right thing to do. When it comes to strategy, however, our success has come from not concerning ourselves with the entire path to the goal but rather focusing primarily on the next step in that direction.

To do something great you need a compass, not a map.

These days I do most of my writing at The Roots of Progress. If you liked this essay, check out my other work there.


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