The head of “People Operations” at Google discusses how the company grew into a world leader in its field and why economics was not necessarily the primary driver of its development.
Bock’s account of the company's origin and growth challenges traditional top-down business models based on monetary incentives and bonuses to mobilize and motivate employees in pursuit of corporate goals. As the author tells it, “Googlers” have built a self-replicating culture of continuous innovation and improvement, from the eponymous search engine to Android phones and operating system and self-driving cars. Trust is at the company's core. Each of their highly qualified employees is free to contribute their best and help others solve problems, transparently, with research supported by rigorously tested data. “Inside Google,” writes the author, “we don't have a lot of rule books and policy manuals.” Nonetheless, Bock offers his own interpretation in the form of 10 work rules that can help transform a workplace into a “high freedom environment.” These include giving your own work meaning, focusing on turning overperformers into teachers and working with underachievers to do better, not confusing development with managing performance, and being both frugal and generous. Bock insists that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and he dismisses the “up or out model of management” associated with former GE head Jack Welch—this scheme rigorously ranks workers annually and dumps the bottom 10 percent. As Bock shows, Google couldn't afford the luxury of wasting one of its largest investments: the associates. Compensation, promotion policy, management practices and performance management are all designed to foster associates' contributions to building a “learning institution.” A perfect example is Google, writes the author, which is “twenty five times” more exclusive than Harvard and “profoundly suspicious of power.”
An intriguing profile of an innovative company that continues to shake up the world.