How I Understand the Book ‘How Goolge Works’

     It has been exactly two months since I joined Google, and I just finish reading the book co-authored by Eric Smith and Jonathan Rosenberg. I knew this book when I was going to leave for USA and was looking through some of my favorite websites to get some interesting information, then the cover of the Chinese version of this book jumped into my eyes. However, I was too busying reading a pile of books  on my desk at that time; I was afraid I didn’t have any time for any more books. It proves to be a good estimation because I still leaves a few books unfinished in my home. Then I come to the bay area and start to work for Google. One day, I was wandering inside Building 1900 as an exploration of Google offices; then on the fourth floor of the building, I found Larry and Sergey’s office at the corner and an large “playground” full of interesting books, android toys, photos, drinks, etc. It is obviously the collections of these two founders, private and public to all googlers. At the top of one bookshelf, I found several of this book ‘How Google Works’. After a few minutes’ hesitation whether to borrow one from my boss’s bookshelf, I gave up this idea and turned to Mountain View Library afterwards.

     This is how I start to read this book. Since it it the second full English text books I’ve ever read(cross off several handbooks on how to fix your toilet, windows system, ex-girlfriend…), I keep a quite slow pace when reading the book, about ten pages per night. You have to be very careful not to skip any comment inside the parentheses or under the pages; that’s the best part of this book I swear(all right it is the second best if you want to count in the picture on page.57). So what on earth does Google work? It is pretty straight to get the answer: co-founded by smart creatives, managed by smart creatives, driven by smart creatives, hire more smart creatives, think 10X bigger and create the coolest products. There is only one key word for the book: smart creatives, which reminds me of one famous line from a Chinese comedy movie: what is most needed in 21st century? The talents. While in Goolge’s case, talents are not enough to be called smart creatives; a true smart creative is someone who can make the best of her knowledge to make the greatest impact and is also eager to explore the unknown, to break the status quo, to make the impossible possible. Yes, I admit, these are the big words you may hear from any company which claims to be innovative. But even having all the smart creatives in the world cannot ensure you can create the best products and make the most revenues ever. That’s another important part this book explores on how Google works to create the best culture and management system to foster innovation and free the creativity of its smart creatives.

     Everything is so far so good, right? I’ve read book reviews online saying that it’s just a series of brainwash articles to brandish Google’s uniqueness and greatness, and Google is no longer the Google described in the book as a result of its fast expansion and unavoidable bureaucracy. It still remains to be discussed whether bureaucracy is unavoidable when an organization grows to a certain scale. One thing I believe remains true: A leopard cannot change its spots. In the positive way, it means that Google’s culture cannot be easily changed. As long as it sticks to its mission and keeps doing the right thing, no one can foresee how far Google will lead us to as well as itself.

     That optimism is what we call The Silicon Valley Optimism. And that’s why I feel so thrilled when I read the unbeknown stories of the founders and many other googlers because I deeply feel that I am the exact same species with them. A brilliant quote from the conclusion section page.253:

     This is why, for example, even as countries all over the world try to re-create the technology magic of Silicon Valley, many of their native smart creatives who strive for technology careers leave those countries to go to Silicon Valley. (We are always amazed at the array of languages we hear in Google cafes.) They find that they can have a far greater impact from California that from their home country, and the allure of gathering with other smart creatives of the same ilk often outweighs that of staying close to home.

     This is how I think and feel about this book and Google. Let me tell you more about How Google Works one year later on how I think and feel at that time.