There is a pernicious belief in our society that having a good idea is the hardest part of meaningful innovation. That is not my experience. I have far more good ideas at my disposal than I do the ability to execute against them. A good strategy is always wasted if the work is bad but I have sometimes seen bad strategies saved by good work. I’ve written about Mission, Strategy, and Tactics often but underpinning all of that is Operations. Operations are generally systems for making progress against a goal in a reliable and timely manner. Here is how I think about my system.


Teams are blocked until they can get questions answered and conflicts resolved. Reviews are our primary tool for solving these logjams at Meta. As a consequence, reviews control the latency of progress. I have written extensively about the reviews themselves but the system of scheduling reviews is equally important to their efficacy.

Anyone can initiate a review. Sometimes I request one to check in on progress periodically, answer a question, or provide new context. More often the teams initiate reviews because they need guidance. But we have worked hard to ensure anyone feels that they can escalate if they feel there is an urgent need.

Reviews by far are the largest allocation of my time as well as for my leadership team. If it takes too long to schedule them then it extends the time a team is prevented from making progress so we reserve large blocks of time each week for them. Still, a little foresight into scheduling reviews in advance goes a long way to keeping projects moving so if you know a decision is coming get on the calendar early to keep latency to a minimum.


Teams of any meaningful scale of cross functional collaboration potentially face exponential overhead trying to align and make progress if they don’t have sufficient mutual knowledge. Even if you could establish global context at a point in time, information entropy sets in almost immediately. Noise from miscommunication and overhead can overwhelm signal surprisingly quickly so it’s your responsibility to evaluate how your system contributes to and helps people process noise. Communication governs the bandwidth we have to make progress.

Regular meetings of the core team are crucial for maintaining shared context in the face of near constant change. Unlike reviews which are oriented towards specific topics, staff meetings should be more open ended to serve as a platform for everyone to share relevant updates since the previous meeting. They should have a relatively small and stable group of attendees to ensure everyone is comfortable speaking up. This core group should have a Workplace Group for async content and a message thread for real time comms as well, but neither reproduces the nuance and strength you get from a synchronous meeting. The connection among this group of people serves as the primary axle upon which the load of the program rests as it moves forward. The structure likely recurs as you move down the org.

Asynchronous communication is also critical. At Meta we use workplace so the natural unit is groups but this could reasonably scale through any modern collaboration tool. Each program should have a very comprehensive set of groups covering a range of audiences: a global group open to anyone interested in a project, a cross functional group including the entire breadth of people working on it (could be open or closed depending on the level of confidential information being shared), a closed team group dedicated to each discipline, and closed working groups for any ad hoc issues that come up. Open groups for feedback, discussion, and just having fun are a good idea, too. Having a group structure isn’t enough, they need to be kept alive through regular — but not formulaic — posts with relevant information. Each group should have someone responsible for keeping it active. Groups can atrophy through both too much or too little posting as well as through anemic response to questions.

Broadcast communications like All Hands and interactive communication like Q&As help fill in gaps that might form either vertically or horizontally in the organization. They are also an uncommonly good way to address subtle cultural issues that could impede progress.

Finally, stable documents people can refer back to are valuable as reference points and for onboarding new people. Things like roadmaps, OKRs, as well as mission and vision statements should be pinned or posted and easily accessible. The process of generating these artifacts is another important one that should be done on an infrequent basis but at greater depth to allow people to ask more profound questions that may not present themselves day to day.

I set aside time each day to read all the new information related to my work. And I set aside time each week to write to each audience who I think would benefit. I end every night with less than ten items in my inbox (email, work chat, and group notifications).


More important than the mechanisms of reviews or communications is the cadence of those things. It may be useful to consider these constructs in light of the OODA Loop. The faster you are able to Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act the more agile you are as an organization. If your review cadence is monthly then that will be the unit by which work slips. If it is weekly you’ve just reduced your latency by a factor of four. Stable work may not need a staff meeting more often than once a month. Whereas teams trying to launch something new may want to meet briefly every day. The cadence of communication, meetings, and reviews governs the throughput of progress.


This process is recursive and the quality of people ultimately govern the unit of work in this system. The stronger your people are the further each bit of guidance can carry you before you are back in the loop. The stronger your people are, the sooner they engage the process itself to resolve their problems rather than allowing themselves to be blocked. Being blocked needs to be seen as a worse outcome than being wrong; it is the most useless of all failure modes.

We can shape culture by hiring well. We can shape culture through what we choose to celebrate and what we publicly discourage. We can shape culture through leadership. And sometimes we can also shape culture through incentives, though that is very slow acting and can sometimes backfire. I am constantly trying to stay in touch with where the culture is and how it could be improved. But ultimately it is up to each person to show what culture is with their actions every day.


I think of these systems stochastically. What are the odds there is someone in the team who is doing the wrong thing right now? (Hint: it isn’t zero). How can I reduce the likelihood there is such a person (or rather, the number of people in this state)? How can I reduce the time it takes me to find them or vice versa? How can I reduce the time it takes them to get what they need? How can I give them tools to self-identify? These are critical questions to ask whether you are a leader or an individual contributor. In every system I want to have a clear path to resolve issues and a backstop for finding issues that didn’t manage to take the usual path.

Many people might think that the power driving the mechanism of progress is my ability to make decisions within this system. As tempting as it is to take credit, that is only very rarely where the value is created. The structure is primarily a forcing function and you have the agency to help shape this structure for your team. The one way to be sure you will fail is to be out of step with the structure. And to comply with the structure people must bring their ideas and disagreements into sharp focus for a moment in time. Whether it is reviewed by me or someone else, the hard work to converge has mostly been done already. Without such a forcing function, entropy sets in and work tends to diverge instead.

To keep things on pace we have people who operate this process. When I managed a team I did it myself. As the team grew I did it with the help of an admin. Today it takes a team of admins and a business lead to manage it effectively. But make no mistake the work being done to operate the machine is as important as anything else being done within the machine itself. Whatever your role, you should work hard to understand the operational mechanisms of progress where you work. And if you don’t know what they are, then it may be time to create some.