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The Facebook business mindset holding Australia back

The Facebook business mindset holding Australia back

Recently, the Australian Financial Review reported a remark by John Howard, a former Prime Minister of Australia. Addressing a “500-strong crowd” that included Queensland’s business and political leaders, he said:

Facebook is for the impetuous, developing inadequacies and foolishness into an art form.

Unfortunately, as you might have already guessed, the reaction of this subset from our business and political leaders was not one of embarrassed silence on behalf of an old man. No, it was “rapturous applause”.

This is tragic. Not because Mr Howard is unable to adjust his own mental model to be able to appreciate the viewpoint of 1.6 billion people — people who are young and old, male and female, and of all ethnicities. It’s tragic because those business and political leaders enthusiastically supported a viewpoint which can only spell disaster for Australia.

Consider Facebook as a business

Let’s put aside the fact that social networks have created unparalleled abundance — that’s a bit esoteric. Let’s just consider Facebook the business.

How many of those applauding have created one of the greatest businesses on the planet — a business which rivals GE and IBM and Toyota and Siemens — in just 10 years starting from nothing?

Let’s make it simpler. How many understand what it takes to create a 21st century business — computing science, data science, machine learning, and design thinking? They might be shocked to know that Facebook has every one of those, not just in droves, but embedded into how they do business daily. In fact, Facebook has already been through several organisational iterations of how to best integrate these skills culturally. “Culturally” means “how we do things around here”. No Australian businesses have done that.

How many realise that the computer power of all our big 4 banks combined is less than 6% of Facebook’s? And Facebook runs a global network with zero downtime, updates everyday, upgrades every week, and 100s of user interface designs tested daily. None of our banks have the slightest capacity to match any of that.

Users benefit daily from AI-led improvements

How many know that Facebook applies Artificial Intelligence daily to improve the next day’s business — processing 2 TRILLION daily records to test 500,000 models which drive how things will work for customers the next day?

How many are executing on an ambition to bring free internet to everyone on the planet who does not currently have access?

How many have made freely available to anyone, via open source, detailed plans of how to build the world’s most advanced communication satellites, solar powered high-endurance communications aircraft, advanced drones, 360 cameras, oh, and everything you could possible need to know about building the world’s most climate friendly data centres?

And all that is only scratching the surface of why Facebook has forgotten more about the business of the 21st century than our business and political leaders appear to have learnt.

As Mark Zuckerberg says:

Building a successful business all starts with your mindset.

That’s why Australia has a massive problem, unless new business leaders with new mindsets are found quickly.

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