Google as Emergent Organization?
| Peter Klein |
People are going to do what they are going to do, and you’re there to assist them. They don’t need me, they are going to do it anyway. They are going to do it for their whole lives. Maybe they could use a little help from me. At Google, we give the impression of not managing the company because we don’t really. It sort of has its own borg-like quality if you will. It sort of just moves forward.
This quote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt is getting some buzz (e.g., Phil Bowermaster, via Ewin Barnett). It gives the impression of a wikified firm, or an emergent organization (to use Hayekian terminology). Indeed, Google makes extensive use of teams, information sharing, and delegation, and the firm has a fairly flat organizational structure. The “Ten Golden Rules” internal document, written in 2005 by Schmidt and Hal Varian (and quoted in the Google HBS case), says “the role of the manager is that of an aggregator of viewpoints, not the dictator of decisions.” But there are decisions, and management, like George W. Bush, is the Decider. As with 3M, Google allows engineers to spend 20 percent of their time on their own projects. Still, these projects are subject to approval and monitoring. After all, the Borg believe in tight coordination!
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