The Washington Post today had an interesting article about Facebook, and the fact that they are not innovating because they are listening to their user base who is adverse to change. The author feels that this lack of innovation and forward progress will lead to its demise in the industry and it will be overtaken by a new innovator in social media. Much like Myspace did to Friendster and Facebook did to Myspace.
They use a famous quote “A camel is a horse designed by committee.” Which made me think of a device I used in college to describe the inability to please everyone. I call this the cheese pizza effect. When deciding on what pizza to order, if enough people are in on the decision there will inevitably be someone who does not eat meat or another person who hates mushrooms and you compromise and compromise until you are left eating cheese pizza. Throw in a person who is lactose intolerant and now you have to order Chinese. The point of the analogy is to show that at some point you have to stop trying to please everyone or nobody will be happy with the product. Facebook is letting users decide the direction of the company, when all they need is one clear voice. Innovation does not come from the masses; masses are inherently conservative and defenders of the status quo. Facebook needs to be the one breaking through the masses and start telling us what we want, not the other way around. If left up to us we would want Facebook 1.0, and would leave Facebook as soon as the changes they wanted to make were implemented on another social network. They challenged Twitter before it got too big to handle, and now are boldly opening up pages to business. But at the same time, public opinion cannot rule over the boardroom or we will end up with a Facebook that looks like cheese pizza and their user base will flock to something less bland.
The truth is, as consumers we do not know what we want. It is up to businesses to tell us that. Listening to the masses and not to their own innovators is a recipe for disaster. So no matter how many members join a “don’t change Facebook group”, you must continue to move forward and think outside the proverbial box.