Especially in technology, change tends to be revolutionary not evolutionary.
If you hire the right people and have big enough dreams, you'll usually get there. And even if you fail, you'll probably learn something important.
But while most companies say that their employees are everything, Larry and Sergey actually ran the company that way.
Google[x], a team working on some of Google's most ambitious projects, built the first prototype of Google Glass, a wearable mobile computer as light as a pair of sunglasses, in just ninety minutes. It was quite crude, but served a powerful purpose: Don't tell me, show me.
Microsoft did aggressively challenge, reportedly spending nearly $11 billion in an attempt to knock Google off its perch as a key player in the Internet search and advertising business.
When we contrast the traditional knowledge worker with the engineers and other talented people who have surrounded us at Google over the past decade-plus, we see that our Google peers represent a quite different type of employee. They are not confined to specific tasks. They are not limited in their access to the company's information and computing power. They are not averse to taking risks, nor are they punished or held back in any way when those risky initiatives fail. They are not hemmed in by role definitions or organizational structures; in fact, they are encouraged to exercise their own ideas. They don't keep quiet when they disagree with something. They get bored easily and shift jobs a lot. They are multidimensional, usually combining technical depth with business savvy and creative flair. In other words, they are a new kind of animal, a type we call a "smart creative", and they are key to achieving success in the Internet Century.
Now, though, the defining characteristic of today's successful companies is the ability to continually deliver great products. And the only way to do that is to attract smart creatives and create an environment where they can succeed at scale.
Perhaps the best thing about smart creatives is that they are everywhere. Their common characteristic is that they work hard and are willing to question the status quo attack things differently. This is why they can have such an impact. It is also why they are uniquely difficult to manage, especially under old models, because no matter how hard you try, you can't tell people like that how to think. If you can't tell someone how to think, then you have to learn to manage the environment, where they think. And make it a place where they want to come every day.
We open by discussing how to attract the best smart creatives, which starts with culture, because culture and success go hand in hand, and if you don't believe your own slogans you won't get very far. We then cover strategy, because smart creatives are most attracted to ideas that are grounded in a strong strategic foundation. They know that business plans aren't nearly as important as the pillars upon which they are built. Then, hiring, which is the most important thing a leader does. Hire enough great people, and the resulting intellectual mixture will inevitably combust into creativity and success.
You can look around and still see people who are interested in money and nothing else, but the underlying drives come largely from a desire to do something else - to make a product, to give a service, generally to do something which is of value.
|Power has shifted from companies to consumers, and expectations have never been higher. Companies can't get away with having crummy products, at least not for long. For example, bad product reviews trump clever marketing. Today, great products win.|
Google’s AdSense product, which developed into a multibillion-dollar business, was invented one day by a group of engineers from different teams who were playing pool in the office.
Don't listen to the HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person's Opinion). When it comes to the quality of decision-making, pay level is intrinsically irrelevant and experience is valuable only if it is used to frame a winning argument.
Organizational design is hard. What works when you're small and in one location does not work when you get bigger and have people all over the world.
|In other words, most companies are slow by design! This doesn't work in the Internet Century.|
Marissa Mayer, who became one of Silicon Valley's most famous working mothers not long after she took over as Yahoo’s CEO in 2012, says that burnout isn’t caused by working too hard, but by resentment at having to give up what really matters to you. Burnout is a symptom of a mismatch between people and their jobs, and she places the burden on organizations to create more humane work environments.
A defining mark of a fun culture is identical to that of an innovative one: The fun comes from everywhere. The key is to set the boundaries of what is permissible as broadly as possible.
Promote transparency and sharing of ideas across divisions. Open up everyone's calendar so that employees can see what other employees are doing.
When Toyota invented its famous kanban system of just-in-time production, one of it's quality control rules was that any employee on the assembly line could pull the cord to stop production if he noticed a quality problem. That same philosophy lies behind our simple three-word slogan "Don't be evil".
Giving the customer what he wants is less important than giving him what he doesn't yet know he wants.
New technologies tend to come into the world in a very primitive condition, often designed for very specific problems. The steam engine was used as a nifty way to pump water out of mines long before it found its calling powering locomotives.
As platforms grow and get more valuable, they attract more investment, which helps to improve the products and services the platform supports. This is why, in the technology industry, companies always think "platforms, not products".
Whereas the twentieth century was dominated by monolithic, closed networks, the twenty-first will be driven by global, open ones. There are platform opportunities all around us. The successful leaders are the ones who discover them.
Khan Academy, Coursera, and Udacity are trying to gain a foothold in the education market. No one can predict which, if any, of these disrupters will grow and thrive, or if some of the more nimble incumbents will fend them off. But what does seem certain is that this combination of technology + open will lead to a better learning ecosystem.
Larry Page: But I feel my job is mostly getting people not to think about our competition. In general I think there's a tendency for people to think about the things that exist. Our job is to think of the thing you haven't thought of yet that you really need. And by definition, if our competitors knew that thing, they wouldn't tell it to us or anybody else.
Hiring is the most important thing you do. For manager, the right answer to the question "What is the single most important thing you do at work?", is hiring.
A workforce of great people not only does great work, it attracts more great people.
If someone is truly passionate about something, they'll do it for a long time even if they aren't at first successful. Failure is often part of the deal. This is one reason we value athletes, because sports teach how to rebound from loss, or at least give you plenty of opportunities to do so.
Henry Ford said that "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young".
You should hire the best engineer you can find, regardless of her coding preference, because if she's the best she can down enough Java to C how to make the Python Go. And when the language of choice changes, she'll be able to adapt better than anyone else.
The resume tells you that the person got a 3.8 from an elite school while majoring in computer science and running track. The interview tells you that the person is a boring grind who hasn't had an original idea in years.
After four interviews the incremental cost of conducting additional interviews outweighs the value the additional feedback contributes to the ultimate hiring decision. So we lowered the maximum to five.
Nothing is more important than the quality of hiring.
Smart creatives today may not share many characteristics with professional athletes, but they do share one important thing: the potential for disproportionate impact.
|We learned that the only way for businesses to consistently succeed today is to attract smart creative employees and create an environment where they can THRIVE at scale.|
If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions, and you have to be run by ideas, no hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don't stay.
But even businesses like energy and pharmaceuticals, where product cycle times are long, are ripe for massive transformation and opportunity.
One of the best, easiest ways to get ahead in a field is to know more about it. The best way to do that is to read. People always say they don’t have the time to read, but what they are really saying is that they aren't making it a priority to learn as much as they can about their business. You know who reads a lot about their business? CEOs. So think like a CEO and read.
Perhaps when you were starting out you were just happy to find a job, regardless of your passion. Then as your career progresses you find that it's not the rocket ship you expected it to be. Perhaps you haven't nailed both sides of the passion/contribution equation.
One of the frustrating aspects of being a leader of smart creatives is how little power you actually have.
A badly run meeting - we probably don't need to tell you this - is a giant, demoralizing time waster. Meetings should have a single decision-maker/owner. There must be a clear decision-maker at every point in the process, someone whose butt is on the line.
Whenever you watch a world-class athlete perform, you can be sure that there is a great coach behind her success. It's not that the coach is better at playing the sport than the player, in fact that is almost never the case. But the coaches have a different skill: They can observe players in action and tell them how to be better. So why is it that in the business world coaches are so unusual?
The essence of being human involves asking questions, not answering them.
The weekly company-wide meeting that Larry and Sergey host has always featured a no-holds-barred Q&A session, but as the company grew, this got harder and harder to manage. So we developed a system called Dory. People who can't (or don't want to) ask a question in person can submit it to Dory (named after the memory-challenged fish in Finding Nemo, though, like Dory herself, we can't recall why), and when they do, others get to vote on whether it's a good question or not. Tho more thumbs-up votes a question receives, the higher it hoes in the queue.
|When it comes to communications, default to open. Maximize the velocity and volume of information flow.|
Most of the best, and busiest people we know act quickly on their emails, no just to us or to a select few senders, but to everyone.
When you start a new position, for the first three weeks don't do anything. Listen to people, understand their issues and priorities, get to know and care about them, and earn their trust. So in fact, you are doing something: You are establishing a healthy relationship.
Ask yourself, what will could be true in 5 years?
|Ideas come from anywhere.|
When creating a movement, attracting the first follower is the most crucial step. "The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader".
But focus on the user is only half the story. The full sentence should read "focus on the user and all else will follow". This means that we will always do what's right for the user, and we trust that our smart creatives will figure out how to make money from it. It could take a while, so sticking it out requires a lot of confidence. But it is usually worth it.
|Smart creatives. When you put today's technology tools in their hands and give them lots of freedom they can do amazing things, amazingly fast.|
70/20/10 rule. About 70 percent of the projects were related to the core businesses of search and search advertising, about 20 percent were related to emerging products that had achieved some early success, and about 10 percent involved completely new things that had a high risk of failure but a big payoff if successful.
Marissa Mayer ran meetings at Google that were like The Gong Show for geeks. People got up to present their ideas and could keep talking until they were gonged.
No one on the Wave team (Google drops Wave because of lack of users) lost their jobs, and in fact most of them were highly recruited within Google after the project shut down, precisely because they had worked on something that had pushed the boundaries. And it failed after having created a lot of valuable technology: Pieces of the Wave platform migrated to Google+ and Gmail.
It helps to see failure as a road and not a wall.
Infinite data and infinite computing power create an amazing playground for the world's smart creatives to solve big problems.
|Try to imagine the unimaginable, because unimaginable things are happening a lot.|