Organizational Culture: Google

The organizational culture of Google is a unique framework of a modern American company.  Google uses a practical view to enhance their workforce.

Google Logo

A practical view “responds to managers’ desire for practical advice and specific communication strategies for enhancing competitiveness and increasing employee satisfaction” (Eisenberg, 113). In a study by Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman Jr., they identified eight common characteristics of their cultures which make them excellent (Eisenberg, 115). Lets examine how Google implements these characteristics in their routine.

1. Bias for action. – Google uses active decision making in their processes and adapts to change in the industry as they occur. When Apple developed the iPhone, Google rushed to develop a competing smartphone. With quick turn around, Google developed the Android smartphone to combat the changes in their business environment.

The Google Android Smartphone

The Google Android Smartphone

2. Close relations to the customer. – Google never forgets who makes them successful: their customers. They constantly develop new products to suit the needs of their consumer base and place a constant concern on their needs. When Google released Google Maps in 2005, they created a simple digital mapping service for customers to get directions from one place to another. Throughout the years customer demand for improvements made Google Maps into a multi-layered tool which can be used to determine traffic conditions, see multiple views of a street, plan a trip using public transportation, and navigate on the go with a smartphone. These implementations identify the strong tie Google has with their customers.

Google Maps has evolved due to customer demand.

Google Maps has evolved due to customer demand.

3.  Autonomy and entrepreneurship –  Google empowers their employees by encouraging risk taking, the result is innovation. For instance in 2010 Google employees came together to find a way to take a picture of a landmark in a city and have the Android smartphone recognize what that landmark is and send the user information on the location. This risk produced innovation which can only be done by a company with an entrepreneurial passion for innovation.

4. Productivity through people – Quality products depend on quality people and Google recruits the best. Their hiring process is based on multiple interviews with different department heads. They create specific problem solving questions during the interview process to see how a candidate will react in the situation. This is done to find candidates whom empower their consensus-driven culture and determine if the candidate can “get-things-done” (google students, 2012).

5. Hands-on, value-driven – Google has a “10 things we know to be true” statement which is based on the core values of the company. Based on this philosophy, Google achieves performance from it’s employees by implementing these values into their business model. For instance the first value on Google’s list is “Focus on the user and all else will follow” which coincides with the first two characteristics of a great company culture (Google company, 2012).

6. Stick to the knitting – Great companies stick to what they do great, and with Google that is internet technology. Google doesn’t diversify by going into other product of service fields. If they do diversity their product line they incorporate the aspects of Google that consumers find great.

7. Simple form, lean staff – Google is characterized as a company with a lack of complicated hierarchies. There are many employees working for Google, however they are encouraged to mingle with all departments with a hope employees will cross-pollinate with ideas. Google promotes this idea with common areas that allow for members of each department to convene.

Example of how the free form environment of Google HQ promotes employee integration.

Example of how the free form environment of Google HQ promotes employee integration.

8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties – Top performing companies such as Google are hard to  categorize. Meaning their structure is loose  and never centralized yet they retain strong core values. Google is a perfect example of this, in the companies “10 things we know to be true” #5 is “you don’t need to be at your deck to need an answer” (Google company, 2012). The company encourages individual action and responsibility by allowing their employees the freedom to work from “anywhere”

The organizational culture of Google is fascinating to explore. The core values of this company are strong and the culture is relaxed. Employees are encouraged to convene with one another with the goal of innovation at the center of all aspects of Google. Could Google innovate the way they do if their corporate structure was rigid like many other Fortune 500 companies?

Citations:

Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., Trethewey, A., (2009). Cultural studies of organizations and communication, Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (pp. 113). Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.

Ten things we know to be true. (2012). Google Company. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/about/company/philosophy/

Hiring process: What to expect. (2012). Google Students. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/students/joining/

 

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About Stephen

Father, music junkie, aspiring television producer, & student of media and communications.
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