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Discover the 7 secrets of the most effective culture of the 21st century! Google Organizational Culture

If you have not had the opportunity to take part in the last #TurquoiseWebinar and the first in a series of webinars about the organizational cultures of the most innovative companies in the world, including the organizational cultures of turquoise organizations – be sure to read this article.

Many companies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries consciously research and shape the organizational culture, a good example of which are turquoise organizations. The group of turquoise organizations where people use their full potential and work with passion is constantly growing. The aim of the webinars is to collect and share good practices from turquoise organizations and other innovative and rapidly growing companies from around the world and Poland so that companies in Poland and Polish leaders, CEOs, company owners, teams and entire organizations in Poland grow faster and create a positive change in one’s environment and in the world.

During the last webinar, Marek Wzorek discussed one of the most interesting business cases. Discover the 7 secrets of Google’s organizational culture, which thanks to its results, development and atmosphere deserves to be called the most effective organizational culture of the 21st century.

A COMPANY THAT SETS BUSINESS STANDARDS

Let’s start from the beginning … The history of Google is very interesting. The company was founded in 1998 by two PhD students at Stanford University – Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It was Larry Page who came up with the idea of ​​creating a search engine with a completely new algorithm and shared it with Sergei. The launch of the venture by the two of them was probably one of the key decisions that made the company grow so quickly. They rented their first office – a small garage – from Susan Wojcicki (the current CEO of YouTube, but that’s a topic for another amazing story!). Investors did not give them a chance at the beginning because there were 10 other search engines on the market at that time, including the market tycoon at that time, Yahoo. Nevertheless, they were persistent and thanks to the refinement of the business model, business processes and the commitment of the founders, the company began to grow rapidly.

The key moment of the beginning of Google’s activity was the investment of the first venture capitals funds, and the investors, along with entrusting their money, made sure that two young, inexperienced entrepreneurs and leaders received the support of an experienced coach and business practitioner – Bill Campbell, who since then has regularly worked as a coach with Larry and Sergey, and then with other CEOs and leaders in Google.

In this way, from a garage and a few employees, in 1999, the company grew to 98,771 employees in December 2018 and continues to grow, and its financial results in 2019 amounted to revenue: of USD 161 billion and profit USD 34 billion.

Below is a slide from the presentation from Turkusowy Webinar Nr. 38 shows the increase in the company’s revenues and key information about the company:

CUSTOM WORKING CONDITIONS

There would be no Google if it were not for the unique organizational culture that the leaders created from the very beginning of the company’s establishment. Google’s organizational culture is very closely related to the working conditions and atmosphere. For example, Google employees have at their disposal in the offices, among others tennis tables and bowling! But do these things create such a good working atmosphere?

In order to answer this question, one must have a good understanding of what organizational culture is all about. Does it just mean what kind of atmosphere we have in the company and how do we feel in a given organization?

Of course not. Apart from the atmosphere itself, organizational culture is made up of such factors as:

  • knowledge, skills and know-how of a given organization, in this case Google
  • IT systems, tools, so-called artifacts
  • ways of communication within the organization
  • ability to create valuable relationships between employees
  • the way team members spend time together in the company and outside of work
  • the environment inside the company, around it, such as the office, its appearance and functions adapted to the needs of the staff
  • ability to cope with crisis situations

You can read more about what organizational culture is and why it is so important in business in our article: “What is organizational culture and why does it eat strategy for breakfast?”.

So let’s take a look at the secrets to the most effective culture of the 21st century that Google has created!

7 SECRETS OF GOOGLE

Google’s organizational culture is the driving force behind the company to remain a leader in IT, search engines, online movies, web document creation and online advertising. It is this organizational culture, among others, that motivates employees and customers to spread innovation and share good business practices with the world. It is thanks to such openness that, among others, this article, for which we would like to thank Google Inc. and Google Poland.

So find out below 7 secrets that made Google a leader in its industry.

SECRET # 1

INVESTIGATING THE STATUS OF THE QUO AND CREATING A BUSINESS IN AN INNOVATIVE WAY

Such a huge business success of Google would not have been possible if it had not been for the initial questioning of the status quo of the functioning of the business by the company’s founders. Just like the leaders of turquoise organizations, at some point in the development of the organization, they understood that the current, traditional way of doing business requires a change, just like the founders of Google from the very beginning set out to constantly undermine the current status quo and create innovations in the creation of services, products and the entire business. With such an attitude, it turned out that services and businesses can be created faster, better, and more efficiently and discover new ways of achieving business goals. For these reasons, the history of Google and the company’s practices so far are also an inspiration and a good example for many fledgling or just developing startups.

SECRET # 2

GIVE UP OF OLD FORMS OF COOPERATION, AND SEARCH AND EMPLOYMENT

By undermining the status quo, Google is undermining many of the standards that have existed for years in traditional business. This also applies to the search and employment of new employees, and cooperation between employees, customers and suppliers. Many of Google’s customers have become Google employees or suppliers. Developing Google’s organizational culture, at some point leaders used a form of cooperation with teams based on the “Bootlegging Policy” method, i.e. a method taken from another innovative 3M company, in which employees can spend 20% of their work on any project or task, and can work on what they want and with whom they want and wherever they want. During this time, people work on personal projects, not necessarily related to their position. This gives much greater flexibility in cooperation, which also translates into good relations not only within the organization but also in cooperation with suppliers and customers. This approach to cooperation ensures flexibility related to the forms of employment and concluding contracts with employees. Google uses both employment contracts, as well as b2b contracts, company shares, or partnership cooperation. Thanks to this approach, at the initial stage of the company’s development, the leaders began a partnership with Bill Campbell – a coach who significantly contributed to the growth of the company and its leaders.

SECRET # 3

REGULAR STUDY OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE AND USE OF HR DATA

Research on the business situation, thanks to the data and indicators that are in the company, opens up space for new opportunities and allows you to avoid significant mistakes. This approach allowed one of the Google branches to notice that the rotation of women in their division is twice as frequent as the rotation of men. It turned out that in the initial stage of development, the company was largely focused on employing men, and the working conditions were not attractive enough for women. Thanks to the audit of the organizational culture and the analysis of data from HR systems, a good solution was introduced and the improvement of working conditions for women and maternity leaves prevented further rotation of women and increased job satisfaction of all employees. Since then, the examination of the organizational culture has been carried out on a regular basis. Cooperation with good coaching and training companies also often begins with competency assessments of leaders and a part of the entire organization. Such assessments and research take the form of examining a section of organizational culture and then, during the processes of changing or developing the organizational culture, it consciously shapes the target, new habits, and creates IT systems and the entire target organizational culture.

SECRET # 4

TEAMWORK ON MISSION, VISION, VALUES, AND GOALS

The 21st century and the development of tools and methods for remote work today enable teams and entire organizations to work effectively, jointly and transparently on the mission, vision and most important values ​​of the company. The organizational culture of Google, as well as many modern managed organizations, make us realize that it is not enough to pass this information on to people. The whole secret of the effectiveness of introducing a new vision, business strategy, and new values ​​to the company lies in the involvement of all departments in the implementation of the business vision and goals of the company. When the goals of the company are known to each member of the team, the correct flow of information is created in the company, and each employee is involved in building it. The OKR method is also used for this: transparent and agile work with the business goals of people, teams and the entire organization, described below.

SECRET # 5

DEVELOPING COACHING COMPETENCIES IN MANAGERS. USE OF EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL COACHES

The development of Google is closely related to the development of business coaching and executive coaching in the US and around the world. When Larry Page and Sergey Brin talked about supporting their company with Venture Capital Funds and taking some shares, investors knew that young entrepreneurs – Larry and Sergey – did not have much business and leadership experience. It is for this reason, among others Kleiner Perkins, one of Google’s early adopters, made the transfer of investment tranches conditional on Sergey and Larry working regularly with coach Bill Campbell. It is thanks to regular coaching sessions and meetings between leaders and the coach that leaders and employees had specific, clear goals, improved transparency within the organization and improved communication. Regularly meeting and coaching the founders, Bill Cambell in subsequent stages also coached other members of the board, successive presidents, incl. Eric Schmidt, and then coaching grew into Google’s organizational culture. Bill was a master at resolving conflicts within the team, between shareholders and between management and shareholders. He has made every effort to build the security, transparency and reliability of the organization. Bill taught that it is not big gestures that make someone a leader, but the seemingly small ones. You can read the story of a coach who contributed significantly to the development of Google in the book “Coach worth a trillion dollars. Principles of Leadership by Bill Campbell, the Famous Silicon Valley Coach ”by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle.

Thanks to Bill Campbell, the Google team understood that a good manager should also be a good coach. And how does this affect the entire organization in the example of Google? Thanks to the cooperation with external coaches from the very beginning of their activity and their subsequent work inside the company, Google managers cultivate a “coaching style of management”. In this way, they maximize the potential of each unit in the company and understand the internal motivation of each person. The skills acquired in the role of a coach increase their effectiveness and the ability to effectively lead a team.

SECRET # 6

TRANSPARENCY WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION AND NO DIVISION INTO “UP” AND “DOWN”

Google cares about transparency within the company. IT systems only facilitate this task. Having easy access to all documents, work tools and communication is critical to employees’ sense of autonomy and commitment. This not only makes it easier for them to perform their tasks, but is also a motivating factor – they understand the company’s situation as a whole at all times. A business that does not care about transparency inside the company is often associated with organizational clutter and chaos, and this is a simple path to business failure. Such a transparent system also makes it possible to avoid divisions in the company, because each team member has the same information and does not get the impression that some things are “hidden”.

SECRET # 7

TAKING CARE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EMPLOYEES – ALSO BEYOND WORK

During the development of an organization, we are not always aware of the importance of building relationships with other people. But we should – they are crucial in every company! Company and department leaders, as well as Bill Campbell, have often initiated the practice of spending time together outside of work. Bill regularly invited leaders to watch sports games together or go out to bars or clubs. Surrounding yourself with motivated and creative people – not only at work but also outside of it – gives rise to new ideas, fosters building lasting relationships and increases the effectiveness of organizational culture.

These are the seven key secrets behind Google’s innovative organizational culture. However, there is one more element worth highlighting that perfectly matches all 7 secrets. OKR method.

OKR METHOD – EFFECTIVE SUPPORT OF GOOGLE OBJECTIVES

There would be no history that you know today if it were not for one of the company’s fastest-growing tools, i.e. the OKR method. The OKR technique, i.e. Objective Key Results – Achievements and Key Results – was created thanks to the practices of Intel Inc. It is most often used for agile and transparent setting, measuring and achieving goals in organizations, but it can also be used to measure the effects of individual projects, so it can also be used by employees, managers, teams and the entire organization. This method was developed by Intel, but became widespread thanks to its introduction during the early stages of Google’s development. You can read exactly what OKR is and how it can help your business in our article here.

And how did the OKR technique find its way to Google? It started in 1999 when Google was still based in a small office. At that time, the group of a dozen or so members of John Doerr visited. He made a short presentation about what the OKR method is, and since then, Google has been using the OKR method for the development of people, teams and organizations, but above all for the achievement of business goals, good cooperation within teams and reaching for ambitious projects and challenges.

You can read more about the OKR method in the book “How Google, Bono and the Gates Foundation are shaking the world thanks to the OKR method” by John Doer, but if you want to successfully introduce the OKR method to your organization, please contact us: info@perfectcircle.pl. We have successfully introduced this tool to many organizations, leading and supporting the implementation throughout the organization or starting from the first implementation workshop. In addition, we have been successfully using this tool for two years at PerfectCircle Sp. z o.o. and our results and development are the best example of this method being proven.

As you can see from the article above, Google’s organizational culture is unusual but achievable by everyone. By creating your company or business, you can also reach excellence and do unique things. Sometimes it is enough to contact someone who will help you open your eyes wider, or learn something you did not know before. Please contact info@perfectcircle.pl

Let’s hope that this story and the example of organizational culture will inspire you. If, however, you want to build a solid culture in your organization, start by checking what stage you are at at this moment, and research your organizational culture thanks to our proprietary Q26 study: www.q26.pl.

We invite you and wish you success!