Lessons in Culture from the Facebook Headquarters

As a strategic implementation partner for Workplace by Facebook, we were invited to the Facebook Headquarters for a partner summit immediately following their annual F8 developer conference. On the heels of exciting announcements of new integrations and capabilities for the platform, a group of partners gathered at the company’s main campus in Menlo Park to discuss the future of Workplace and the potential for changing the way we connect in modern organizations.

Workplace is the enterprise communication platform by Facebook. Essentially, it’s like Facebook for work with additional capabilities and integrations with other commonly used work-related tools and programs. Among other advantages, it requires minimal ramp up time and little-to-no training for implementation since so many users are already very familiar with its consumer-facing counterpart. We believe Workplace has the potential to be one of the fastest growing platforms ever created, and it most certainly will be a game changer for internal communications and connectivity within and across organizations.

The summit included a comprehensive presentation on Facebook’s culture, which provided an overview and insights into their values as well as the ways of working that reinforce their “hacker” culture.

While culture is extremely important for employee motivation and can impact a company’s financial performance, understanding how to influence it can be an elusive and complicated endeavor. Clients often want to know the “secrets” of organizations known for strong cultures in order to apply them at their own companies. What we’ve learned is that the secret isn’t in the what (which values, beliefs or symbols they subscribe to), but in how organizations build and reinforce their culture that matters.

Here are some of the most influential factors we’ve seen in common with Facebook and other companies with strong and effective work cultures.


Our approach to change management is to focus on behavior change to drive outcomes. In culture-related engagements, we help leaders translate their vision and values into a few impactful and observable behaviors. If you look at Facebook’s core values, you will notice that each one of their six core values is a clear action statement. Facebook’s values are:

  • Be open
  • Move fast
  • Be bold
  • Build social value
  • Focus on impact
  • Ship love (this is a play on “ship code”)


Facebook clearly aligns behavioral expectations with their values and continually reinforces them by incentivizing and rewarding those behaviors. To inspire a focus on impact and recognize employees who move fast, the company hosts “hack-a-thon” events where teams have a limited time frame (~48 hours) to come up with a new product idea. Hack-a-thon events have produced some of the most well-known Facebook features, including the “like” button and live video.


We’ve seen time and time again the significant role of senior leadership in shaping the culture of a company. Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, role models Facebook’s value of being open. One example is the weekly live Q&A session where employees can ask him anything they want. While hosted in-person from headquarters, it is also broadcasted via live video so employees can participate from anywhere. This weekly ritual has elicited some unexpected and interesting inquiries at times, but it has proven to be a great way for Zuckerberg to talk to employees openly about topics they care about.

While simply replicating these values or applying one or two of the same tactics may not work for other companies, we can certainly learn a lot from how Facebook has utilized these three principles to build and reinforce a culture that aligns with their brand and business strategy.

Liz O’Connor is a Principal at Daggerwing Group. She works with leading companies to transform the way they work through culture change, employee experience and digital collaboration tools. She brings a creative and results-driven approach to change management and is certified in Human Centered Design. Liz is the author of several articles and book chapters on team collaboration, communication and organizational culture. Additionally, she's been a featured speaker at industry events, conferences and podcasts. Outside of work, Liz is an active mentor and serves on the Board of Directors for Step Up, a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping teen girls from under-resourced communities reach their full potential.
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