Brett Sadler

Being a Google Geek

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The entrance to Google and You Tube offices

Call it what you will, I am slightly obsessed by Google.

I have been lucky enough to visit their offices a few times, I have lots of Google related books, Google pens, even some Google drinks bottles (yes, you have read that right). But I often ask myself, why Google?

Over the past few years I have talked to different Google staff members (and also staff from organisation’s that work really closely with Google) and they are always interesting, inquisitive, can-do people. This isn’t by chance. Google are well known for having a clear corporate culture and rigorous recruiting practices. They pay well and pay staff according to what they produce.

So, just how do you whittle down a reported two million applicants per year, down to several thousand who are actually offered a job at Google? It’s a mammoth task, but one which they manage to do by having (amongst other things) clear processes, guidelines and consistency. Some would say that despite these shackles, Google have managed to still keep that entrepreneurial spirit, culture and wonder within the organisation.

I have blogged about this before, but Google engineers have ‘20% time’, whereby they work on anything they want, as long as it’s related in some way to Google’s work. Not that Google are the first or last company to offer this mind (see 3M’s post it note history), but it fits in so well with Google’s overall organisational approach, which includes innovation at its core and taking risks, from recruitment right up to 10 x Moonshots.

Google also only employ the very best applicants. (with two million applicants I guess you can). But they still actively search for potential staff members. Just think about that for a moment. They receive an absolute shed load of applicants each year, but they still spend time and money searching for the best.

This leads me on another area I love about Google. Every staff member is encouraged to ‘act like they are the owner‘. This helps build the entrepreneurial approach of staff, individual ownership and an inclusive organisational culture. I love this. I take this approach in my working life wherever possible.

They also have really cool offices. It is interesting to note that over the past several years, the office environment has been steadily changing, with lots more organisations using the same approach as Google – to have a fun, functional space to encourage innovation and (dare I say it) face-to-face talking! When I last visited the Google offices, there were loads of ‘in real life’ conversations taking place between Google staff, all over the building. Who would have thought it!

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Google floor 9

I could go on. As you would imagine, in an organisation the size of Google, there are lots of approaches, guidelines, mantra’s and stories, but I will save some of these for future blogs!

If you want to learn more about Google’s approaches, I can highly recommend Laszlo Bock’s book ‘Work Rules’. It gives a really in-depth insight into the recruiting and retaining practices at Google. It is honestly a fascinating read, whether you are a fellow Google Geek or not. You may read the book and think, ‘that would never work in my organisation’ (or at all), but I am sure you will pick up at least a few jems.

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