Google Engineering: The REAL story

The REAL Google Engineering Story

Who said Google equals Chaos? Besides a Fortune cover story hook, that is? 

I heard Leland Rechis, Google User Experience Designer, give a methodical presentation last evening of the methodical Google Engineering development process, at a methodically run event at the NYC Googleplex in downtown Manhattan. 

Despite the fancifully spun Fortune Magazine tale last October of a Google “edgy management style,” the Google $150 billion market cap genius is not the serendipitous fruits of a company “thriving on the edge of chaos.” 

Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky even proposed a rewriting of the business card of Google’s senior vice president for business operations, Shona Brown, offering up COO for “Chief Chaos Officer,” not Chief Operating Officer.

Lashinsky on Google operating principles: 

Where failure coexists with triumph, and ideas bubble up from lightly supervised engineers, none of whom worry too much about their projects ever making money. 

Perhaps that is the Google Engineering philosophy that Eric Schmidt and company would have Fortune Magazine believe, but it is not the way that Google actually operates to fuel its $150 billion market cap.

In discussing how Google creates applications for mobile applications, Rechis portrayed a well thought out and precisely implemented Googley agile development process designed to efficiently support the realization of strategic Mountain View driven engineering initiatives. 

Rechis addressed the April meeting of the NYC Chapter of the Usability Professionals Association, hosted by Google at the NYC Googleplex.

The event marks the first in a planned Google reach out series to NYC technology organizations, as Marcus Mitchell, Google Engineering Director, told me last week: See Google challenges NYC software engineers.

After putting forth the requisite Google mission statement—organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful—Rechis described his typical challenging, and non-stop, work routine; As the Mobile team comprises engineers around the world, Rechis interfaces with collaborators around the clock: Japan, England, California…

In Google’s inaugural NYC Speaker Series presentation, Google Vice President Adam Bosworth showcased the Google need for speed: See Google’s Adam Bosworth to NYC technologists, Speed rules

Rechis reiterated Google builds for scale, speed and reliability, measuring performance “on the order of milliseconds.”

With almost half a billion monthly unique visitors worldwide, Google must deliver, Rechis underscored.

Rechis confirmed new ideas can perculate up from anywhere within the Google organization, and Google “encourages people to think big,” but the potentially big ideas are subject to stringent, collaborative analysis.

The Google agile development process begins with “upfront ideation,” Rechis said, and “story creation” follows. Once “stories are in place,” a highly managed “weekly sprint” development cycle is set in motion, with multi-functional teams working to meet supervised deadlines.

Development teams typically are comprised of a Project Manager, a User Experience Engineer and a Technology Lead prioritizing workflow. Project schedules are set and reviewed for compliance in regular and frequent team meetings:

Engineer finishes task,
Produces build for User Experience approval,
Engineer releases into build,
Build QA’d.
Build stage for release…

The Google “weekly sprint” methodology enables flexible iteration integrating user feedback during the development process, Rechis indicated.

As is the Google rule, he concluded, “focus on the user and all else will follow.”

During the Q & A, I asked Rechis:

“What is the Google Phone, when will we see it?”

Following appreciative chuckles from the audience, Rechis replied to my question:

“There is no Google Phone.” Next question.

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