Book review #2 for 2019: How Google Works.

I’m going to do a really short review of each book that I read this year. I hope it’s useful in even the smallest way.

How Google Works: Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

I usually look for reasons as to why the authors of a book are believable and why I should take them seriously. What have they actually achieved, who respects them and why etc.

For this one I managed to save some time here as, well, they run Google.

I would say that this is a must read for anybody that leads people, works in a team, is in a tech or product company or just generally wants to business better. It’s pace and tone make it an easy read and its packed full of usable and practical insight, a lot of which I have already begun acting on.

My key take homes from this great book are:

  1. Everything is about people. Do everything that you possibly can to get the best people in your organisation (hiring), treat them exceptionally well and make your business a very difficult place to leave (in a good way, not in a ‘hooks in’ way).
  2. As a leader we should be comfortable moving through fierce debate with a narrow focus on arriving at the best decisions for the business and not necessarily aiming for ‘happy’ consensus. Again, this comes down to having the right people who put an idea meritocracy above being right.
  3. Over communicate, but with intention and only in support of your values and vision. It is so easy to do this badly, but if done well it leads to stronger alignment of purpose and culture.
  4. If we want to change peoples’ behaviour we need to appeal to their emotions rather than to prove that we are right. They refer to this as the ‘Oprah Winfrey rule’ which sums it up nicely.
  5. Think bigger. We should set different types of goals for different types of scenarios. Some should be achievable with reasonable effort and then others should be barely possible even with super human effort and these are the ones that I’m talking about. This pushes the buttons of the right kinds of people (smart creatives) and leads to real innovation and progress.

At NONA, we have 5 very strong core values and what was interesting and hugely validating for me while reading this book was that most of what stuck out for me aligned really closely with at least one of our values. If you are interested, here they are:

  1. Continuous improvement as a way of life.
  2. Be in it for each other.
  3. Communicate often and honestly, no matter what.
  4. Be generous with your knowledge.
  5. Take ownership.

I’ll be back soon to do my next review. Thanks for reading.