Google culture should still be open

When I started at Google 2002, there are about 500 employees. When I left 9 years later, there were over 50,000. During that time, I was amazed at the relative cohesion of the company’s culture – values ​​that Google has successfully conveyed to tens of thousands of employees around the world. Today, Google has about 75,000 people on the payroll. The situation exploded a few weeks ago – with former employee James Damore’s controversial memo causing internal and public failure – leaving me wondering if this was a breakthrough for communication ethos. Unique openness of Google or not.

Google culture has always been a somewhat messy, dynamic and aspirational ecosystem, rooted in a strong sense of morality. This company is well known for encouraging employees to explore many ideas and to question the status quo. I remember thinking that dysfunctional office life was in “Dilbert”Cartoons don’t really apply to Google. Even at its current scale, Google is seldom a place with bad leadership, behavior, or decisions.

If some of this makes Google sound like a university, it’s no coincidence. When they founded Google, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were both Stanford graduates, certainly used to questioning assumptions and heated debate. So Google grew up with features it kept the same: Hands-on Meetings built around an open microphone and no-text Q & A with executives. A quarterly board report is presented to all employees. (How many companies would consider doing either of these?) To share and discuss information, there are approximately 87,000 Google Groups email lists organized around all types of topics – both work-related and not so much. There are about 8,000 miscellaneous reasons – known as “miscellaneous” – excuses, for everything from juggling and philosophy to rockets and “discussion of terrible ideas”.

During my years at Google, my default approach to work and, in fact, to life – became more risk-friendly and more global. My critical thinking and long game skills continue to grow. Six years after leaving, I still stick with the company. Even if I criticize about one of the products or its place, I believe Google will do the right thing in the end …

In order for the culture of openness to thrive, employees are encouraged to bring who they really are into their work – a delicate balance that hasn’t caused major problems in the past. Many, many discussions over the years have taken place vigorously to reach “central” (or greater) status. Along the way, the participants give up, either continue to debate their views, or put on a series of events aimed at persuading or ending the discussion. Sometimes, the sharp tone or the subject is too sensitive causing the reader to warn senior managers to pursue the issue offline. What the company has, and always has, is heated internal debate on big and small issues. To my knowledge, so far, hardly anything led to the shootings – and certainly it is impossible to stop the discussion.

But today, the scene is rife with culture, with real-time and viral news poised to address all kinds of stress or discomfort. So how does Google’s famously resilient, resilient Google culture handle unprecedented violations of its intrinsic code?

Thanks to flammable properties Of social platforms, leaks are spreading like never before. Many companies, including Google, plan leaks as part of their communications strategy. But Damore broke some of the norms in its distribution. From what I have read, instead of asking questions to a stakeholder group (eg “do diverse programs really produce useful results?”), Damore proactively included the main article his formula on a number of lists, including a list of diversity. I couldn’t help but think he was looking for a fight – and some of the past and present Google employees I talked to felt the same way. Therefore, it is not surprising that some employees, especially women and other underrepresented minority groups, may feel very limited and apprehensive about speaking out or opposing treatment. inequality and inequality.

It’s hard to maintain a truly value-based culture in a place the scale of Google. When a company has grown to become a global brand, a verb is recognized as “best place to work”Year after year, it is inevitable that things will continue to change. I really hope, in the soul-searching moment, that Google can still be a “right to know” and inactive culture, as many companies do, on a “need to know” basis.

We’ve seen an early indication that the company is trying: when CEO Sundar Pichai postpones a joint meeting to save the whole situation. That may be the point when some companies will set a new default: no longer company-wide discussions. Instead, Note a part said, “To recognize the concerns of Google employees, we need to… create a better set of conditions for us to discuss… we will find some forums to gather and match. partners with Google employees, where everyone can feel free to speak freely. “

I was very happy to read that. It told me, “We will continue to work together to tackle issues that are important to us as a team.” It does not signal a top-down communication problem or goes into a “need to know” state. What will keep Google Google if it can continue to promote ways to question the status quo, pursue insightful ideas, and work towards useful solutions that benefit working people. over there. Maybe the circles of trust will be smaller, with more attention on (unconscious or unconscious) prejudices of all kinds. It is important to fully develop include in addition to enhancing effective diversity. All leaders and managers will need to be more sensitive and intuitive to their employees.

These missions require determination. The iconic Google, with its overwhelming cultural influence, is a good place to unpack and tackle it all. Let’s see how it works.

(Disclosure: I am currently an Alphabet contractor and occasionally work on projects with one or more Alphabet companies. I don’t have access to any internal systems, nor have I spoken to any of them. Do my clients on the subject.)

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