Google: Reinventing management?

Google: Reinventing management?

Summary: Is Google reinventing corporate management or just living off the fruits of one big breakthrough?It's an interesting question that has no definitive answer.

TOPICS: Google

Is Google reinventing corporate management or just living off the fruits of one big breakthrough?

It's an interesting question that has no definitive answer. The question was raised in a Wall Street Journal story (subscription required) that contrasts two case studies--one from management consultant Gary Hamel and one from Harvard Business School associate professor Thomas Eisenmann.

Hamel has a book called "The Future of Management" coming this fall that will argue that Google is more than an algorithm. He argues that Google is redefining management with radical decentralization, small teams and innovation. Hamel makes Google sound almost Borg-ish in its ability to evolve on the fly and absorb knowledge.

Eisenmann argues that Google will need more discipline and hierarchy as it tries to diversify into new markets such as productivity software and e-commerce. Eisenmann agrees that Google has been great at creating interesting ideas, but there's no guarantee these will be revenue generators.

The two sides are interesting ends of the Google spectrum and for now both are right. Google's culture has turned out a lot of interesting ideas, but Hamel's take that the search giant is redefining management seems to be a bit much.

Why? Google hasn't even hit its adolescent phase. Google's history has been all about good times and market domination. Show us how Google manages adversity, the doubling of its workforce and tackles new markets and then we can judge the management practices.

It's also too early to see whether Eisenmann is right although I'm inclined to believe he's closer to reality than Hamels. Google will have to develop more management discipline as it grows. Why? Big companies can't operate like small ones forever. That's the downside of being huge.

For me, Google doesn't have the track record to claim much of anything regarding management practices. In technology I look to Cisco Systems as a company to study. Cisco rode the dot-com boom, lived through the collapse and is in a great position for the next phase of the Internet buildout. All of that retooling happened on the fly with Cisco CEO John Chambers at the helm. We should let Google's model ripen for a while and study Cisco's management model in the meantime.

Topic: Google

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  • Google is just refurbished classified ads

    And search engine overkill - I don't need 50M hits if I search for "road apples." They need to reduce the size of their server farm, develop real applications, offline capabiity, etc. Microsoft and Oracle know how to do this - not Google.
  • Soon...

    ... there'll be a post mortem in which Google management is accused of wasting money on frivolity and closed markets, while failing to obtain substantial new sources of revenue.

    The company could become one of the largest if not the largest portal. That could take advantage of the free software on which the company has expended so much money.

    But not so long ago Google paid AOl $1 billion for an extended search contract and a minuscule ownership share.

    So the best immediate plan for making money has been precluded by the need to protect the search business.

    Barring some Microsoft-level strategic thinking about new markets, Google's huge success will last only until one of the search competitors becomes perceived as a fully credible alternative.

    The collapse, when it comes, will be quick.
    Anton Philidor
    • Google will last as long as OSS

      That is like centuries, because it uses OSS and has a similar business model.
      Creative management is just another OSS innovation that gives Google a competitive advantage.
      Linux Geek
      • lol

        They say that about all of them.

        Google may be the "best" to date, but there's very little chance that they word "Google" will have much more meaning than "S+ a meeting". Something the old fogies remember, and have to explain what they mean to younger folk.

        Like the word "Netscape".
        • lol

          I should add, the same would be almost certainly true of MS or any of the other big names.

          Centuries. Not bloody likely.
  • The Future of Software Development

    Certainly a book on the Future of Management is needed. Here is the observation that I think will be verified many many times prior to the US presidential election. Well there are several examples.

    Poland's new government after corruption
    Enron and WorldCom's corruption
    China's encouragement of its citizens to rat out management who put out pet killing and kid killing products
    Bridge Collapse on Mississippi
    Old School Harvard Trained Managers.

    All of this stems from the future of software development which if you have not guessed is already implemented at Google.

    In a nutshell it is about Open vs Closed and Read vs Write and the unique form of democracy found really only in the USA and almost lost but now being nurtured bu a group of citizen bloggers who likely just brought down Carl Rove. It is also about a new and powerful profession. Geetings Programmers.

    So lets start with the last example. The Harvard trained manager is taught that business is war and that therefore it is conducted on a need to know basis. This fosters a culture of back room dealing, a culture of silence, which leads to a culture of corruption, which is also called an owner society and I will from hence forth be calling a "slave" owner society.

    So when a corporate executive appears to be doing wrong - grossly compensating himself and loyal royals - etc it has - up until last year in the USA - gone unreported to the press or to authorities.

    The situation has gotten so bad in the USA that hardly anyone in the USA can not remember a supervisor or higher level manager embezzlement.

    Oracle is about the only company aware and I have decided that their business model is simply to watch the journals and when an embezzlement is reported send out the salesmen. Add in products to their 9i and above databases protect data from not only external hackers but from internal threats which can be described as persons of authority within.

    Hence Oracle thrives and will always dominate the database market. No one else gets it because they do not want to see that management is the problem.

    The entire profession of management is undergoing change which is best seen in that the employee who would not complete a directive because it was illegal in his country or appeared so is no longer marked as insubordinate and fired. Thats huge for a Harvard trained man. I will go so far as to state that the Harvard MBA, which use to be a badge of honor, has and will become exactly the opposite. We are talking months here not years.

    On Hillery. Her connections to multi-national corporate executives and there lobiests will be her undoing. Each connection should be viewed as a source of corruption along the lines of "being connected" IE being a mobster.
  • RE: Google: Reinventing management?

    That is like centuries, because it uses OSS and has a similar business model.