The term soul searching comes from the book The Facebook Effect, on page 180 of the chapter 9, 2006.
The astonishing success of Facebook’s photos application led to a bout of soul-searching at the company. What was it, Zuckerberg and his colleagues asked themselves, that made photos so successful?
Soul searching means the deep trace of the reason why something worked. It is easy to be happy about a great feature, and a successful campaign, but it is way to easy to just stop tracing the deeper reason of the product. Just like the photos application of Facebook. It is a simple application without most of the features other photo sites have, but it is soon becoming the most successful photo application on the Internet. What is the driver for that? Why is that? Why, Why and Why?
With the deep trace of the whys, they learnt the secret of social graph, and how application can be built on top of social graph, and that leads to the iconic Facebook homepage – the News Feed (a feature that was originally called Timesorting).
That is what soul searching is about.
Asking more Why’s
If something happens, and it is a good one, don’t let it go. Push ourselves to do a deep soul searching and understand the deeper reason behind it. Thank God we are in Internet space, and we have all the data needed to understand the reason. Just like Facebook can dig into the data and understand every photo change leads to 25 new page views, there must be some link between the reason and the result. Go get it.