“So, what’s different now?”
This is Eric Schmidt’s favourite opening conversation as quoted in one of the first chapters of ‘How Google Works’, which also defined the motivation to write this piece. As I reflect on the 8 weeks of my blink view at Google, I will always be short of words to even touch upon all the aspects that our intern cohort was able to experience and what we missed on. But, my curiosity to take a stock of what was different before and after the Googliness filled summer gets me to go down the memory lane and write a first-hand experience.
Google was only a case study for us in my management curriculum, as we kept scratching our heads as to what is it that the organisation is doing differently. Their approach on employee engagement, inclusion and dialogue helped me answer a lot of those questions. Generally perceived as a technology company, the success of the company lies in its extensive network of individuals who facilitate symbiotic growth of professional and personal lives. This has helped a lot of technology products, businesses and teams to grow exponentially and create a widespread impact on addressing some of the key challenges of different stakeholders in many realms of our daily life.
While on the project front I learnt a lot about Google’s new businesses and got a sneak peek into Google’s entrepreneurial set-up, there were a lot of things I learnt on a more fundamental level – how unaware are we of inclusion, how we should value and cherish ourselves and how we should respect the individual in front of us and the opportunity at hand. It strengthened my belief for the fact that a successful business can be built on humanistic principles of empathy and mutual respect. Another thing that I learnt about Google is the art of listening to the employees and taking proactive steps to address their issues, be it making uncomfortable conversations or being empathetic to their needs during testing times. A lot is talked about Google’s culture, but I realised that the more important part is that those cultural values are deeply engrained in the attitude of Googlers. People at Google have honed the art of networking to an extent that it is now more of a habit for them. This habit of networking opens many doors, facilitates sharing of ideas across teams, geographical boundaries and time zones to a level where it has been crucial in discovering innovative products and services. It also taught me the importance of taking ownership of our actions and being honest with ourselves, to lead our ideas and take them to fruition. There were many changes on the behavioural front – key being learning to outperform ourselves and at the same time showcase the work that we do because achievements do not speak for themselves. We often appreciate our near and dear ones but fail to reflect on our own achievements – this is one key learning from Google’s ‘I Am Remarkable’ training.
While sharing what we were fortunate to experience, it is also worthwhile to mention what we did not! Yes, we did not experience Google’s awesome office space, sleeping pods, multi-course meals, gym and massage chairs (Yes, you read it right). We were not able to witness the extreme pampering that Google interns get to experience normally – be it elevator conversations with senior leaders or breakfast chats with co-interns and cross-functional teams.
To sum up, I would only say that some things have changed, some have begun to change but we were fortunate to be a witness to experience that change and contribute to it.
Batch of 2019-21 IIM Shillong