Shaping culture as a leader

By Amit Singh, President, Google for Work

Photo: Mark Wickens

In life, we don’t always want to pick the most basic option. We make choices because they say something about who we are and what we value. As a business leader, the productivity software you choose for your business matters. That’s because it’s not just about getting things done — it’s about demonstrating your priorities and shaping the culture of your whole organization.

When you make something easy to do, people do more of it.

It all comes back to a simple and powerful concept in design: when you make something easy to do, people do more of it. Good systems and programs facilitate behaviors by making them easier, and you can see this everywhere if you look. When someone is trying to lose weight, they can make it easier by throwing out the cookie jar and putting a bowl of fresh fruit somewhere prominent in the kitchen. Research also shows that more workers save for retirement when 401(k)enrollment is opt-out, as opposed to opt-in. And if you want people to stay off the grass, make it easy to stay on the sidewalk.

If you define culture (at least in part) as how we act, then culture can be influenced by well-designed systems, too. Look at our robust culture of sharing on the internet. Between the billions of daily posts, tweets, snaps and kitten videos, we’re sharing more today than ever before. We have lots of social apps that make it easy for us to share, so we share, a lot.

The same principle applies for work software. Let’s take collaboration as an example, since the benefits of working together are widely understood. If you have work software that makes collaboration easier, you might think that your employees will do more of it, thereby reinforcing an internal culture of collaboration. And that’s exactly what we see. Google recently commissioned Forrester to create a Total Economic Impact (TEI) report of customers who were using another cloud solution before Going Google. Forrester studied how organizations use Google Apps, which are designed to make collaboration easier, in comparison to their previous solution. Forrester found that switching to Google Apps produced a 213% ROI and nearly $1 million in collaboration and productivity gains over a three year period. Of the companies surveyed, Apps customers were 20% more productive, and they cited Apps’ easy collaboration — no set-up, no confusing licenses, no downloads — as a key factor.

The systems that you use, even if you don’t think about them too much, can have a big impact on your organization’s culture. So choose wisely when it comes to work software. Consider which priorities matter to you and your business, and then make sure the tools you’re giving your people make it as easy as possible to advance those priorities. If you believe that collaboration is good for business — as we do and have seen — why not choose the system and tools that make working together easy?

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