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Google and their knowledge workers

So, I finally got around to ready, “Google: Ten Golden Rules,” about how that company hires and manages their employees, and I came away from it unimpressed, and, even, feeling a little icky.

Their rules basically made sense to me (Hire By Committee, Pack Them In, Make Coordination Easy, etc. etc) with the one exception of “Strive to reach consensus.” I mean, I guess it’s an okay thing to strive for, but trying too hard to reach consensus gets in the way of progress.

Anyway, that’s not what bugged me. What bugged me was the tone of the article, written by a CEO, and Berkeley professor. It has a remarkable Us and Them sentiment. At the beginning of the article, they reduce their entire workforce to the class of “knowledge workers,” and then, for much of the article, Google employees are referred to as “them” and “their.” It struck me as a remarkably distant approach, as if Eric and Hal were talking about how they care and feed the ants in their ant farm.

Another, and possibly related thought, is why are so many afraid of Google when they’ve demonstrated competence in only three areas (search, maps, and webmail)?

  1. I think those three areas show why people are afraid: each had been done before (Mapquest, Terraserver, Altavista, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) and was considered a competitive dead zone. I’ll add one more to your list that fits this pattern, online advertising. Google has shown that they’re able to move into an established area, break some heads, and still maintain tremendous goodwill.

    I have no idea how long they can keep this up, though.

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