Google Engineering and Insights Into Human Nature

March 27, 2011
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Humans organize to get big things done. And for years leaders and thinkers have tried to optimize organizations. You have no doubt studied this yourself. Do you remember reading books like “The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong” or perhaps the true genius of Scott Adams in works like “This Is the Part Where You Pretend to Add Value.” Those are great timeless works because they are working off enduring human scripts. You can find other insights into human dynamics in organizations, of course, in leadership books from greats from Carnegie to Covey.

But are these dynamics relevant to the new high tech world of Silicon Valley?  Is it possible that Scott Adams might sometimes be writing humor that speaks to the activities at Apple?  Could Dr. J. Lawrence Peter have gleaned lessons relevant to Facebook?  Could Carnegie and Covey captured enduring lessons relevant to Google?

I’m just about convinced that these many lessons are relevant to all human organizations.

I’ve also convinced myself of something else.  Steve Lacy is a great writer/thinker capturing lessons learned from Google relevant to every enterprise.

Steve just published some great observations on organizational dynamics in a post on his blog titled “What Larry Page Really Needs To Do To Return Google To Its Startup Roots.”  His writing is so good, I recommend you read his entire piece. Here is his intro to get your mind going:

I worked at Google from 2005-2010, and saw the company go through many changes, and a huge increase in staff.  Most importantly, I saw the company go from a place where engineers were seen as violent disruptors and innovators, to a place where doing things “The Google Way” was king, and where thinking outside the box was discouraged and even chastised.  So, here’s a quick list of things I think Larry could do to bring the startup feel back to Google.

He then follows with several well thought out points, most of which are applicable to and worth study by large enterprises everywhere. For example, the NIH or Not Invented Here syndrome is something we all have to deal with. Steve articulates why very clearly.

So, thanks Steve for the fantastic writing.