Schmidt and Rosenberg, How Google Works

Leaders are readers; readers of books on organizational management and leadership. If you are interested in setting up your organization to scale, then Google might be a good place to learn from. Tech companies are strange leadership examples, though, because they are lead by geniuses. Not all large organization leaders in the C-suites are smart (no sarcasm intended), many manage with hard work and learned leadership skills. Large successful tech companies generally have a genius founder who is the leader by nature of being the founder. They scale when the genius is also socially intelligent and can lead the organization in the implementation and demonstrative capability of the tech.

So, as a pastor, reading a book on the organization and administration of a super sized tech company isn’t a 1:1 direct application, but there are a lot of principles of operation, recruiting and management that can be useful. This is especially true for a church that wants to reach and disciple tech natives. For me, the biggest learning from this book for churches will be how to move faster (while still being wise). We live in a time when culture is speeding up exponentially and the church (universal) has a well-earned reputation for slowing things down… exponentially. While the church doesn’t need to speed up, it can have a significant impact if it learns to relate to a faster world with the timeless gospel.

Here’s some great quotes for you to cut and paste into your own Google doc…

  • from the foreword by Google cofounder and CEO Larry Page, “Over time I’ve learned, surprisingly, that it’s tremendously hard to get teams to be super ambitious. It turns out most people haven’t been educated in this kind of moonshot thinking.”
  • p.5, “But while most companies say that their employees are everything, Larry and Sergey actually ran the company that way…They felt that attracting and leading the very best engineers was the only way for Google to thrive and achieve its lofty ambitions.”
  • p.73, “If we measured success by number of users, we could (and did) trick ourselves into believing that the products were successful. Sometimes they weren’t, though; momentum for many of these offerings flat-out stalled.”
  • p.77, “(Henry Ford, ‘If I had listened to customers, I would have gone out looking for faster horses.’)”
  • p.190, “Clean out your inbox constantly…Remember the old OHIO acronym: Only Hold It Once.”
  • p.195, “Board members want to talk about strategy and products, not governance and lawsuits. (If this isn’t true, get new board members.)”
  • p.239, “Management’s job is not to mitigate risks or prevent failures, but to create an environment resilient enough to take on those risks and tolerate the inevitable missteps.”