Google’s cultural transformation and what you can learn from it

Google, a name that reaches out as a synonym when one needs to ‘search’, is known as a company whose cultural ethics make them stand-out in the field. Not only do they consistently rank as the best place to work at, they are largely responsible for bringing a new cultural wave in terms of office environment.

Google is one of those few companies that underline the importance of managers in the field. They point out that a great engineer may not necessarily be an efficient manager. They follow strict set of rules such as being a good coach, being productive and result-oriented, empowering the team and much more. They also pointed out pitfalls for managers like, not being able to transit work to the team, difficulty in being consistent in performance management, etc.


Vinton G. Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google brought into the spotlight five valuable lessons on growing a culture of innovation.

Sustained competitive advantage cannot be achieved with technology alone

Google has spent years thinking about how to maintain and improve a culture that fosters transformation and innovation. Following these core principles have led to a cultural development over two decades now. To create a more innovative business, you must rethink how people, structures, and processes interact every day—we refer to this as organizational culture. The teams you rely on to build must have systems and processes that keep them engaged, amplify their ability to produce, and keep them consistently forward-looking.

Measure, make decisions, and be transparent in that process

“It’s important to recognize that a feedback system only works when people believe changes will be made as a result of their feedback.” At Google, data collection is everything. It is extremely important to collect data through various sources like surveys and interpret them correctly. Once they’ve gathered the data and made a decision, it’s time to actually put those changes into motion. It’s important to recognize that a feedback system only works when people believe changes will be made as a result of their feedback. So the trick is to ask the questions and then actually do something with the result.

Transparency is another important part of Google culture. It’s important that they be transparent about the feedback we heard, and how they went about addressing it. Being transparent as a company increases customer trust on one hand, and employee trust on the other. All this is core to the company’s DNA.

Don’t be afraid of failure

You have to have the willingness to allow failure. There are times ideas don’t work out. They then work on refining these ideas and hope to reach the point where they do work out. By going down a number of different paths and exploring new capabilities in the system, and encouraging people to go down these paths, even if they end up at a dead end, they often taste success.

Don’t forget that culture is always a work in progress

One of the things that Google tries to accomplish is to give people the freedom to try things out, which resulted in a policy of allowing engineers to spend 20% of their time doing things that they weren’t originally assigned to do. People use 20% time to learn outside of their assigned duties and it actually acts as a stabilizing component of employee satisfaction. The idea of 20% diminished for a while as we grew, until we reminded everybody that that 20% was fundamental to Google and was a cultural element that we wanted to maintain. It’s important to remember that you have to periodically refresh the cultural elements that matter.

Stay open

Technology alone does not guarantee success. You need a culture that supports change and acceleration—which paves the way for innovation. People have always powered technology, and today that’s especially true as teammates must collaborate and solve big problems together, even if they’re not in the same room. Fostering a culture of innovation helps lead to identification of new opportunities, and quick action to create new ideas and get ahead of the competition. One should use the advantage of sharing knowledge with friends and family at understanding things better.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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