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Navigating between these extremes will require the company to consider the following two recommendations.
First, as the company is known for having a highly analytical culture where development is quantified at each stage and even the projects generated during the 20% time of employees is measured, Google needs to take the enterprise-level (or large corporation) needs list and prioritize it, and then put incentives on the top fifty of these unmet needs. The pay-off for solving these top fifty problems is the potential to completely run a separate division of Google solely focused on the enterprise marketplace. The intent of this division is to concentrate on creating entirely new products in response to these unmet needs, with the incentive being what many engineers and technical professionals value most, which is autonomy and the opportunity to spend even more than 20% of their time on their projects of interest. The level of competition this would nurture exceptional levels of creativity and would through the selection process find the most qualified staff members to run the new division. The key aspect of this recommendation is that it sets the foundation for highly effective leadership both from a collaborative standpoint as defined by Bennis (1999) and it also will quickly define those members of the development teams who have the technical competence to earn trust and credibility (Humphreys, Pryor, Haden, Oyler, 2009). As the enterprise market is one that has not nearly been addressed well enough by Google, this strategy is critical both from a strategic as well as a management standpoint.
The second recommendation is to consider the practices Sony and other Japanese manufacturers rely on for their rapid pace of innovation and new product development, and that is to have the engineer who created the new product or service "own" it through the entire validation process. Typically in Google today a new product concept is eventually forwarded to Marissa Myer, Vice President of Product Development (Hof, 2008) for review and eventual presentation to the senior management team. In Sony's culture a more egalitarian approach was envisioned by the company's founder since the outset, and it has proven to be successful in finding those product champions who will work the hardest to make a new product a success. This approach would also have within it the opportunity for recognition and one of the most valued aspects of the Google culture, autonomy and freedom to pursue ones' passion. Organizationally this would also allow for even greater levels of cross-collaboration and team orientation as those with ideas that got past the screening process could potentially lead to entirely new project teams. For Google to succeed over the long-term it must continually grow those innovators they have hired, giving them the chance to experience the autonomy and freedom of attaining their visions of new products over the long-term.
Google is an anomaly of American corporations given its rapid, explosive growth and the ability of its culture to nurture and promote innovation using The Rule of 20%. The management and leadership challenges in such a rapidly growing organization have been discussed in this analysis, with an orientation into what differentiates their unique leadership approaches. The global reach of Google is far beyond being for the lowest cost per programming hour, with a strong concentration on having future products reflect cultural, regional and religious variations between nations. This practices makes the company pay attention with great levels of focus on how regional variations can contribute to their strategic performance. Comparability speaking Google appears to have an appreciation of the tenets of the Cultural Dimensions Model (Hofstede, 1983) and its implications on global growth. The most challenging aspect of the company's future however is in the area of transitioning to sell more into corporations and enterprises when its development teams and approaches are more oriented towards applications and services that can be readily used by millions of people globally ever day.
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Hofstede, Geert. (1983). National Cultures in Four Dimensions: A Research-Based Theory of Cultural Differences Among Nations. International Studies of Management & Organization, 13(1,2), 46.
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