When Peter Deng emerged from Stanford’s d.school — armed with Post-It Notes and the desire to do something meaningful — he knew he didn’t want a typical job. He wanted something as fluid and flexible as the academic environment he was leaving, where ideas were championed and given space to thrive.
With this in mind, he took a chance and joined as the fourth product manager at a growing company called Facebook. “It was small. People cared about building things that made an impact — and they wanted to do it all fast. I immediately felt at home,” says Deng, now Director of Product at Instagram. But, as often happens when you get a bunch of ambitious people together, the urge to establish hard-and-fast process wasn’t too far behind.
“It’s not that process isn’t necessary, you just have to be extremely mindful about it,” Deng says. This principle has guided his work over the last six years at Facebook, and today as he shapes product at Instagram. “I’m always striving to give my teams an environment where they can focus on building and nothing else.”
At First Round’s CEO Summit, Deng shared the steps he’s taken to thoughtfully remove structure at Instagram in order to maximize and sustain creativity.