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How Google Works

by Eric Schmidt

Favorite quotes from the book:

“Go out there and have huge dreams, then show up to work the next morning and relentlessly incrementally achieve them.”

As Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, says: “In the old world, you devoted 30 percent of your time to building a great service and 70 percent of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.”

Product development has become a faster, more flexible process, where radically better products don’t stand on the shoulders of giants, but on the shoulders of lots of iterations. The basis for success then, and for continual product excellence, is speed.

If you can’t tell someone how to think, then you have to learn to manage the environment where they think. And make it a place where they want to come every day.

Once established, company culture is very difficult to change, because early on in a company’s life a self-selection tendency sets in. People who believe in the same things the company does will be drawn to work there, while people who don’t, won’t.

You want to invest in the people who are going to do what they think is right, whether or not you give them permission.

When a CEO looks around her staff meeting, a good rule of thumb is that at least 50 percent of the people at the table should be experts in the company’s products and services and responsible for product development. This will help ensure that the leadership team maintains focus on product excellence. Operational components like finance, sales, and legal are obviously critical to a company’s success, but they should not dominate the conversation.

burnout isn’t caused by working too hard, but by resentment at having to give up what really matters to you.

Start by asking what will be true in five years and work backward. Examine carefully the things you can assert will change quickly, especially factors of production where technology is exponentially driving down cost curves, or platforms that could emerge.

Sergey asked one of his favorite interview questions: “Could you teach me something complicated I don’t know?”

Henry Ford said that “anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

But what’s most important in the Internet Century is product excellence, so it follows that big rewards should be given to the people who are closest to great products and innovations. This means that yes, the lower-level employee who helps create a breakthrough product or feature should be very handsomely rewarded. Pay outrageously good people outrageously well, regardless of their title or tenure. What counts is their impact.

Hal Varian notes that it is always a good idea for individuals to build expertise in areas that complement things that are getting cheap ...

People always say they don’t have the time to read, but what they are really saying is that they aren’t making it a priority to learn as much as they can about their business.

“Innovative people do not need to be told to do it, they need to be allowed to do it.” In other words, innovation has to evolve organically.

As Larry says, if you are thinking big enough it is very hard to fail completely.

“Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.”

As Jeff Bezos points out, “Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow — and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.” When information truly is ubiquitous, when reach and connectivity are completely global, when computing resources are infinite, and when a whole new set of impossibilities are not only possible, but happening, what will that do to your business?

© 2021 Enea Xharja