Of course, we're not the only company that
follows these practices. Many of them are common
around Silicon Valley.
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And we recognize that our management techniques
have to evolve as the company grows. There are several problems that we (and
other companies like us) face.
One is "techno arrogance." Engineers are
competitive by nature and they have low tolerance for those who aren't as
driven or as knowledgeable as they are. But almost all engineering projects
team projects; having a smart but inflexible person on a team can be
deadly. If we see a recommendation that says "smartest person I've ever
known" combined with "I wouldn't ever want to work with them again," we
decline to make them an offer. One reason for extensive peer interviews is
to make sure that teams are enthused about the new team member. Many of our
best people are terrific role models in terms of team building, and we want
to keep it that way.
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A related problem is the not-invented-here
syndrome. A good engineer is always convinced that he can build a better
system than the existing ones, leading to the refrain "Don't buy it, build
it." Well, they may be right, but we have to focus on those projects with
the biggest payoff. Sometimes this means going outside the company for
products and services.
Another issue that we will face in the coming
years is the maturation of the company, the industry and our work force. We,
along with other firms in this industry, are in a
rapid growth stage now,
but that won't go on forever. Some of our new workers are fresh out of
college; others have families and extensive job experience. Their interests
and needs are different. We need to provide benefits and a work environment
that will be attractive to all ages.
A final issue is making sure that as Google
grows, communication procedures keep pace with our increasing scale. The
Friday meetings are great for the Mountain View team, but Google is now a
We have focused on
managing creativity and
innovation, but that's
not the only thing that matters at Google. We also have to
manage day-to-day operations, and it's not an easy task. We are
building technology infrastructure that is dramatically larger,
more complex and more demanding than anything that has been
built in history. Those who plan, implement and maintain these
systems, which are growing to meet a constantly rising set of
demands, have to have strong
At Google, operations are not just an
afterthought: they are critical to the company's success, and we
want to have just as much effort and creativity in this domain
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Getting the most out of knowledge workers will be the key to business
success for the next quarter century. Here's how we do it at Google.
At Google, we think business guru
well understood how to manage the new breed of "knowledge
workers." After all, Drucker invented the term in 1959. He says knowledge
workers believe they are paid to be effective, not to work 9 to 5, and that
smart businesses will "strip away everything that gets in their knowledge
workers' way." Those that succeed will attract the best performers, securing
"the single biggest factor for
in the next 25 years."
At Google, we seek that advantage.
The ongoing debate about
whether big corporations are mismanaging knowledge workers is one we take
very seriously, because those who don't get it right will be gone. We've
drawn on good ideas we've seen elsewhere and come up with a few of our own.
What follows are ten key principles we use to make knowledge workers most
effective. As in most technology companies, many of our employees are
engineers, so we will focus on that particular group, but many of the
policies apply to all sorts of knowledge workers.
Hire by committee. Virtually every
person who interviews at Google talks to at least half-a-dozen
interviewers, drawn from both management and potential colleagues.
Everyone's opinion counts, making the hiring process more fair and
pushing standards higher. Yes, it takes longer, but we think it's worth
it. If you hire great people and involve them intensively in the hiring
process, you'll get more great people. We started building this positive
when the company was founded, and it has had a huge payoff.
Cater to their every need. As
Drucker says, the goal is to "strip away everything that gets in their
way." We provide a standard package of fringe benefits, but on top of
that are first-class dining facilities, gyms, laundry rooms, massage
rooms, haircuts, carwashes, dry cleaning, commuting buses – just about
anything a hardworking engineer might want. Let's face it: programmers
want to program, they don't want to do their laundry. So we make it easy
for them to do both.
Pack them in. Almost every
at Google is a
team project, and
teams have to
communicate. The best way to make
communication easy is to put team members within a few feet of each
other. The result is that virtually everyone at Google shares an office.
This way, when a programmer needs to confer with a colleague, there is
immediate access: no telephone tag, no e-mail delay, no waiting for a
reply. Of course, there are many conference rooms that people can use
for detailed discussion so that they don't disturb their office mates.
Even the CEO shared an office at Google for several months after he
arrived. Sitting next to a knowledgeable employee was an incredibly
effective educational experience.
Make coordination easy.
members of a
team are within a few feet of one another, it is relatively easy to
coordinate projects. In addition to physical proximity, each Googler
e-mails a snippet once a week to his work group describing what he has
done in the last week. This gives everyone an easy way to track what
everyone else is up to, making it much easier to monitor progress and
synchronize work flow.
Eat your own dog food. Google
workers use the company's tools intensively. The most obvious tool is
the Web, with an internal Web page for virtually every project and every
task. They are all indexed and available to project participants on an
as-needed basis. We also make extensive use of other
information-management tools, some of which are eventually rolled out as
products. For example, one of the reasons for Gmail's success is that it
was beta tested within the company for many months. The use of e-mail is
critical within the organization, so Gmail had to be tuned to satisfy
the needs of some of our most demanding customers—our knowledge workers.
Google engineers can spend up to 20 percent of their time on a project
of their choice. There is, of course, an approval process and some
oversight, but basically we want to
allow creative people to be creative
. One of our not-so-secret
weapons is our ideas mailing list: a companywide suggestion box where
people can post ideas ranging from parking procedures to the next killer
app. The software allows for everyone to comment on and rate ideas,
permitting the best ideas to percolate to the top
Strive to reach consensus. Modern
corporate mythology has the unique decision maker as hero. We adhere to
the view that the "many are smarter than the few," and solicit a broad
base of views before
reaching any decision. At Google, the role of the manager is that of
an aggregator of viewpoints, not the dictator of decisions. Building a
consensus sometimes takes longer, but always produces a more
committed team and better decisions.
Don't be evil. Much has been written
about Google's slogan, but we really try to live by it, particularly in
the ranks of management. As in every organization, people are
about their views. But nobody throws chairs at Google, unlike management
practices used at some other well-known technology companies. We foster
to create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, not a company full of
Data drive decisions. At Google,
almost every decision is based on quantitative analysis. We've built
systems to manage information, not only on the Internet at large, but
also internally. We have dozens of analysts who plow through the data,
performance metrics and plot trends to keep us as up to date as
possible. We have a raft of online "dashboards" for every business we
work in that provide up-to-the-minute snapshots of where we are.
Communicate effectively. Every
Friday we have an all-hands assembly with announcements, introductions
and questions and answers. (Oh, yes, and some food and drink.) This
allows management to stay in touch with what our knowledge workers are
thinking and vice versa. Google has remarkably broad dissemination of
information within the organization and remarkably few serious leaks.
Contrary to what some might think, we believe it is the first fact that
causes the second: a trusted work force is a loyal work force.