"How Google Works" by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Roserberg
I've been reading a lot in media about how wonderful is to work at Google and the amazing things they are creating in the world. Fifteen years ago they were starting as a small startup of a search engine website and now they are transforming business of almost all industries in the world. And to do so Google does far more than just be a cool workplace with volleyball nets and big colorful slides - they manage to attract what they call "smart-creative people" and create a culture where they can do amazing things without the fear of failure, putting the user in the center and focusing on the excellence of the product.
The internet, mobile and cloud computing have had impact companies in all kinds of ways. As before the power was in the hands of big companies - and it was really difficult to change society if you aren't inside of one of them - nowadays this power is decentralized, and innovation can emerge from anywhere. Big corporations are now threatened by small startups that are emerging everyday, and the ones which doesn't stay adaptable for the changes are doomed to fail. Companies which uses technology only to optimize operational efficiency and maximize profits - and not a tool to make real transformation and change - will see soon their business being deplored by another with a big great idea. Excellence in products is now fundamental in any business success. People now have access to all kinds of information, and as Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, says: "In the old world, you dedicated 30% of your time creating a good service and 70% screaming about it. In the new world, this becomes reversed". And by the power of internet costs for doing tests and failure have fallen drastically, making the development of products much more flexible, quick and efficient.
Eric and Jonathan describes that Google has the strategy to create a culture to maximize all these aspects. The company has born with the mentality that they need to behave differently in the internet ages. During the last century, companies have managed people with a more vertical structure, where only a few have control of information and decides the strategy of what the company should do. Technology and innovation were delegated to a secret department from another building, and employees were only executors of what people from the top wanted. To attract the "smart-creative people", Larry Page and Sergey Brin - cofounders of Google - knew that they need to create a new work-environment to maximize their potential, and not to overwhelm their abilities. That's why Eric describes that the strategy of Google is to hire the best "smart-creative people" and stay out of their way. They have a more horizontal hierarchy, and employees have freedom and autonomy to make decisions. They provide a true open communication, where everybody know about everything - what are the goals of Google, where they are planning to invest, what are the problems they are facing. It's a basic principle: if you don't feed people with information, they wouldn't be able to do amazing things. They encourage people and teams to talk to each other, to change informations and to be a good "router".
Larry and Sergey created Google with a one simple and short slogan in mind, which is the principle that guides any design project: focus on the user. Everything Google does is thought to provide a maximum good experience and to make people's life better, and the rest is consequence. When they came up with the idea of Google Earth, they had no idea in how to generate business revenue. But the idea was so good and useful for people that they build it anyway, and only after launch to public with millions of downloads, they had the idea to suggest these people to install, together with Google Earth, the Google Search Bar too in the navigator. In this way, more people installed this tool, more searches were made and thus more revenues were generated. That's why they always prioritize to optimize growth by providing good solutions and experiences for people, and not focusing only in generate revenues: if the solution and the experience are good for people, the revenues will be consequences.
Another point which is really amazing at Google is how they face failure. Google launch a lot of good products, but a lot of them - Google Buzz, Google Wave, Google Video, Google Answer, Google Reader, for example - were launched to public but were big fails. Therefore Eric and Jonathan describes us that nobody were fired because of that, because their culture is to encourage people to search for innovative ideas and test them all the time. It's part of the process to test ideas and learn from the mistakes so you can improve next time. A lot of functionalities of these products were re-launched in another new products with different approaches, and were big successes.
It's a good reading for managers and entrepreneurs who want to create or transform a business adapted to the changes of this century. Google has had impressed us with a lot of innovation solutions, and it will not stop here. The speed of changes and transformation are too fast that it's almost impossible to predict what and when will be the next big thing in any business. As Eric and Jonathan says, in the 90's people thought it was crazy to think that phones, which were the size of a sewing machine and cost a fortune, will be in the pocket of billions of people on the planet. When Google announced to map the entire world and photograph every single street so you can navigate at places online, everybody thought it was a insane crazy idea. And there are still some people who think autonomous cars will be science fiction for a long time.