HSSCM: Updates from Facebook and Snapchat

October 5, 2018

High school science club management methods are flourishing.

I wanted to highlight two examples of interesting ways to operate publicly traded companies in the spotlight.

The first example of HSSCM comes from Facebook, truly a gold mine of examples. I learned that a Facebook executive sat in a photo op location during the Brett Kavanaugh  hearing. My source was “Facebook’s Head of Public Policy Is Supporting the Kavanaugh Nomination, and Some Employees Are Livid.” A Facebook top dog named Joel Kaplan appeared, at least to the Verge, to endorse “his close friend.”

The result, according to the write up, “roiled the social network.” I like the word roiled. The real journalists at the Verge reported:

For Facebook, the controversy over Kaplan represents a new point of division at a company that is still grappling with the Instagram founders’ unexpected departure and the largest data breach in its history. Only when it comes to the Kaplan controversy, it’s not clear to me what the company’s next move should be. The C suite seems to have been annoyed by Kaplan’s attendance, but was initially dismissive of employees’ concerns. (How concerned are employees? My favorite detail in Isaac’s story is that they went into Kaplan’s calendar and learned that he had not in fact taken the 27th as a personal day, as Kaplan initially stated. The calendar was later updated to reflect that it was, indeed, a personal day.)

It appears in the canon of the HSSCM method that it is not necessary to know what senior executives are doing. Furthermore, revisionism in the form of modifying a digital calendar, is supported. I also enjoyed learning that in this particular HSSCM example, the concerns of the employees were not at the top of the to do list.

Implications? I suppose there is a possibility that some MBA might interpret the method as exemplary decision making regarding a chain of command, time allocation, and awareness of the senior staff activities.

The second example concerns Snapchat, a service which I admit I never understood and still do not.

I captured this HSSCM method in the write up “9 Highlights from Snapchat CEO’s 6000-Word Leaked Memo on Survival.” Like leaks at Google and Palantir, the fact that someone released an internal memo suggests that shared values about how to handle confidential information may be lacking. Science club members have to be loyal, right?

My first reaction to the write up was, “6,000 words is a lot of words for a memo.” If I worked at Snapchat, I am not sure I would read that document. Some employees obviously concluded that reading and leaking were proof of the HSSCM approach.

I found a couple of the management principles embedded in the memo semi-interesting.

Item One, I noted the admission that the company moved too quickly. Well, it did break things, including usage of the software. An added plus was social media visibility. Annoyed users expressed their displeasure with a Snapchat design tweak. HSSCM knows how to get publicity. That’s a plus.

Item Two, a service called Discover is good. But the service is a “mess.” Hey, that’s part of the break things. The fix? Make Discover a “lean back” experience. I love the word experience. HSSCM methods deliver experiences, just like Google ads’ redesign which features the word “experience” instead of “increasing revenues”. See the email sent by Google on October 4, 2018, with the friendly, warm experience of the mail address: ads-noreply@google.com.

To sum up, here are the HSSCM methods I extracted from these two case examples:

  • It is not necessary to know what senior managers are doing during the day on prime time television for six or seven hours
  • It is okay to make it easy to modify digital calendars which is a trendy approach to revisionism
  • It is okay to make decision in a hurry, ignore feedback, and then apologize. That is a way to move fast and put broken things back together.
  • It is okay to create services which appear to be a mess. Creative destruction, right?

No wonder sign ups for MBA degrees are sinking. Who needs to study management when HSSCM methods are within reach of anyone working at a tech centric company?

Stephen E Arnold, October 5, 2018


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