How Google Works

A friend sent me this slideshare presentation about the creative management philosophy behind Google.

If you’ve experienced a corporate environment, you’ll appreciate what they’re getting at.  If you haven’t, you might just want to skim through anyway:


I had two thoughts while reading this.

On the one hand, I wanted to send it to the CEO of an organisation I used to work for; an individual who strongly believes in innovation, but whose attempts to nurture it within the company met with what we might describe as institutionalised inertia combined with professional selfishness.

On the other hand, I have a terrible feeling that this feel-good Google story is exactly the kind of thing that would end up being played at a major staff meeting, with key individuals adopting the language and buzzwords but not actually changing their behaviour or the way the organisation functions.

Let’s face it, if the presentation didn’t have ‘Google’ stamped all over it like a corporate imprimatur, it’d be some weird and hopeful yet ultimately fruitless pep talk that we idealists would cling to while management moved invincibly onward, muttering ‘runs on the board’, ‘lets kick some goals’ and ‘bang for our buck’.

After all, the harsh reality is that if the ‘smart creatives’ were really so smart, they wouldn’t end up in the position of total professional dependence on managers whose own creativity and smarts are entirely devoted to self-interested career advancement.

If this sounds overly cynical, don’t worry. It’s just the voice of experience.  Cynicism should have been my KPI, given how steadily it increased over the course of my experiment in corporate employ.

The good news is that individuals may now be well placed to exercise the birthright of the ‘smart creative’, unencumbered and therefore unexploited by the increasingly impersonal machinations of big business.  To be free of dysfunctional corporate systems is one example of how, on a lower income, our lives can nonetheless be much richer.




7 thoughts on “How Google Works

  1. I think that ‘smart creatives’ are by definition both loners and losers. Like most of us they want to stay alive, and are thus forced to interact with the world to that extent, but their creativity per se cannot be sold. Paraphrasing by memory what the late and great Pierre Ryckmans wrote apropos of Don Quixote’s naive idealism: ‘The successful man adapts himself to the world; the loser adapts the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the loser’. I think it would be a hard act to be both a Google employee and a loser.

    • I think some of us are drawn to the margins for various reasons. It’s like recognising that the ‘mainstream’ has got their own area well covered, so we’ll go where there is something fresh, new, and interesting.

  2. other notable losers of history: Jesus, Socrates, Confucius, Buddha. According to Ryckmans (and I believe him) none of these would get a teaching post at any university today, no matter how modest.

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