I was just over at Matt Cutts’s blog reading his thoughts on some of the challenges that he sees Google generally facing through 007. He talked about Googlers in general almost suggesting that they were of the same pod, well not directly perhaps, but it was a thought that occured to me; and kinda got me thinking on this whole corp structure and ethos thing. Why do some organisations flourish whilst others flounder? Great management really does matter, not just of business and ideas, but people too.
Its interesting how people who work for a large organisation can often split or diversify into different mindsets. A company that treats its workforce well, as in gives good reward, recognition and purpose can do exceptionally well and take on all comers. It really is possible to get groups of people all singing and dancing from the same collective hymn sheet. Iv’e never worked at Google, to my knowledge ive not even physically met a Google employee, but I have watched a bod or 2 over the years, Matt Cutts to be specific. Matt’s online persona is pretty cool. He enages and crosses swords with all sections of the web community and seems to have a knack for staying balanced and true to his core message. You’ll never read Matt slating anybody in a rude or disrespectful way; hell, even when he gets mad at people he manages to inject a little dryness and humour, just go look at his blog and see if you can pick out the odd ass or two! Ok, so im in danger of sounding like I’m a paid up memeber of the MC fan club , I’m not, there’s quite a bit I could say that would give a different opinion, but thats for another day of course and is more Google policy than direct Matt related. No, the point Im getting to is that corporations, organisations, teams, are lead from the front. People stand to gain a great deal of benefit from those who have purpose and vision. Shared purpose and values are a formidable force in any sphere of life and can be the making or breaking of an organisation.
A few years back I worked for a company; this company was locked in battle, split right down the middle. Workforce vs management. There existed 2 separate collective identities. Management were commited to winning. Great you’d say, ah but no, let me tell you. It was not so great at all.Management were commited all right, but for the wrong reasons. They were commited to trying to break the organisation of the workforce rather than growing any shared objective of the business and its values. They took great pains publically to paint a face of concilliation and shared objectives, yet their actions suggested that their motives were all together different.
The workforce representatives were just as bad. Most were locked into ideas of the past, ideas that had an inherent mistrust for the motives and pressures of business resisting change at every opportunity, lobbying intensley to ensure that public ownership was maintained and sustained. There was a complete lack of trust towards any idea that through shared objectives, shared vision, shared rewards the organisation could grow and prosper and move forward united, competing on the stage that rightly or wrongly is global capitalism.
God, when I think back to where it stood in say 1996 it really did have some massive opportunities to grab this whole internet thing by the balls. It had some 5000 outlets the length and breadth of the country, a fantastic distribution system that accessed the rail, road and air networks. Some 200, 000 mouthpieces to help grow and spread the word of new products and initiatives. It could have diversified to become a world leader, an Amazon, an Ebay, anything it wanted to really, but was shackled, shackled by inertia and closed mindsets unwilling to either trust or dare to look beyond some point of conflict or dogma. it sat idley by relying on the patronage of governmental control and finance and years upon years of irrelevant industrial collective bargaining agreements.
Why was this? Well Im not going to go into too much detail about who did where and what and why, as a lotof it is just supposition and more opinion based thn anything else. I did know a fair few of the key movers and shakers and was involved in a lengthy dispute/resolution process or two, so lets just say that I came to recognise some of the almost impossible internal presures and hurdles they seemed to be faced with, on both sides of the divide, not to even touch on any idea of individual complacency!
So, what am I getting at? I guess Im saying that as organisations grow and get wealthier and are subject to new challenges and pressures then it can be pretty easy to lose track of where one is going. Reading what Matt wrote kinda made me think in terms of, well quite clearly matt is one of those people who knows how to push and prod and get things done within his sphere of influence. I think he may have been responsible for the appointment of Adam Lasnik. If you read Adam’s posts at the google blog or webmasterworld.com you’ll see that he seems to share some of the characterisitics that Matt tends to push out. Even keeled, considerate, user focused , as responsive as he feels he can be. Another firm hand on the tiller that is the tricky path of webmaster public relations. How many Adam’s or Matt’s or Eric’s or Larry’s are there at Google? Probably an army of them. It sure seems to be an organisation that is pretty sorted, and with people like Matt Cutts questioning and responding to criticism of google, even disagreeing with things that he feels are either just wrong or removed from what he sees as the general shared purpose of making the best search engine they can for its users, then its pretty safe to say that for the foreseeable future Google from a web search perspective, will continue to be ok. OTOH of course, should the hawks be able to grab a hold though and the push for profit is put before the push for users, then it could well be a different story. Altavista should be a word that haunts many a Google stock holder. If I ran Google, I’d stick up altavista is dead posters everywhere, just to act as a salutary reminder.
Happy new year, hope its a good one for you all. Im off to burn a few more calories on this cold English morning, thank god for bicycles 🙂