Case Study: Analysis of Organizational Culture at Google

Google Inc came to life with the two brilliant people as the founder of the company. Those two were Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Both of them are a PhDs holder in computer science in Stanford University California. In their research project, they came out with a plan to make a search engine that ranked websites according to the number of other websites that linked to that site. Before Google was established, search engines had ranked site simply by the number of times the search term searched for appeared on the webpage. By the brilliant mind of Larry and Sergey, they develop the technology called PageRank algorithm. PageRank is a link analysis algorithm that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of document, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of measuring its relative importance within the set. All this in-depth research leads to a glorious day which is on September 15, 1997 where Google.com domain was registered. Soon after that, on September 4, 1998, they formally incorporated their company, Google Inc, at a friend’s garage in Menlo Park California. The name Google originates from “Googol” which refers to the mathematical equivalent of the number one followed by a hundred zeros. In March 1999, the company moved into offices at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto. After that, the company leased a complex of buildings in Mountain View. Ever since then, the location of the headquarter remain unchanged.

Google’s core business is to provide a search engine for the cyber user who would like to go to their desire site. The Google search engine attracted a number of internet users by its sleek and simple design but result in amazing search result. After the initial stage of Google establishing itself in the world, it began selling advertisements associated with the search keywords. The advertisements were text-based in order to maximize the page loading speed. Most of the Google Inc revenue relies on the advertisement and they had been successfully with the help of AdWords and AdSense in their system. After having some experience in the industry, Google itself launched its own free web-based email service, known as Gmail in 2004. This service is established to meet the need of the cyber user in order to store and send their document through online. In the same year, one of the most captivating technologies that Google had launched is the Google Earth. Google Earth is an amazing creation that is a map of the earth based on the satellite image. It requires you to type the desire location that you want to view and it will process the image for you. Furthermore, Google Inc made a new partnership with NASA with even enhances the Google technologies. Google also had its own Google Video which allows user to search the internet for videos. One of the most important things in the Google Inc is that they have a strong organizational culture which brings them closer and stronger compare with other firms. The values that they emphasis on are creativity, simplicity and innovation in order to gain competitive advantage against their competitor.

The Google Culture

Google is well known for their organizational cultures distinctiveness and uniqueness compared to their immediate competitors. On the Google corporate website, they have listed down 10 core principles that guide the actions of the entire organization. These are the values and assumptions shared within the organization. These values are also termed as ‘espoused values’, where it is not necessarily what the organization actually values even though the top executives of the company embrace them.

In Google, the daily organizational life is distinctive and is one that thrives on informal culture. The rituals that portray the organization’s culture as unique and possesses a small-company feel are portrayed daily at lunchtime, where almost all employees eat together at the many various office cafes while at the same time having an open, relaxed conversations with fellow Googlers that come from different teams. Also, because one of the Google culture’s main pillars are the pillar of innovation, every Googler are very comfortable at sharing ideas, thoughts, and opinions with one another in a very informal working environment. Every employee is a hands-on contributor and everyone wears several hats. Sergey and Brin also plays a big part of laying the foundation on what the Google culture is and the founders have continued to maintain the Google Way by organizing a weekly all-hands “TGIF” meetings for employees to pose questions directly at them.

The Google Culture

Here are some of a few of their core principles which will provide a look into Google’s management philosophy and the type of culture they want to possess:

In Google, the motivated employees who ‘live’ the Google brand and are aligned to the company call themselves ‘Googlers’. Even former employees of Google have a name which they refer to themselves as ‘Xooglers’. This shows that in Google, their employees are so involved in the organization that they have their own symbolic name that mirrors the organization’s name and image, which is a sure sign of existing strong cultural values that are present within the company.

After tremendous growth in Google, the organization moved from a humble office building in Palo Alto, California back in its early days to its current office complex bought over from Silicon Graphics. The complex is popularly known as the Googleplex, which is a blend of the word ‘Google’ and ‘complex’. Googleplex is the result of a careful selection that serves to establish Google’s unique and individualistic culture in the eyes of the employees and the public. The corporate campus is built to provide a very fun, relaxed and colorful environment both inside and outside. Innovative design decisions provides Google employees 2000 car lots underground so that open spaces above and surrounding the building are filled with unique and interesting architectures that includes an on-site organic garden that supplies produces for Google’s various cafes, a bronze casting of a dinosaur fossil, a sand volleyball court, heated “endless pools” and also electric scooters along with hundreds of bikes scattered throughout the complex for Googlers to get to meetings across campuses. Googleplex is a significant departure from typical corporate campuses, challenging conventional thinking about private and public space. This also points out the alignment of values that are present in Google’s culture such as innovation, fun, laid-back, creativity and uniqueness that clearly shows that their organizational culture is truly unique and different from that of their competitors and other organizations.

Within the Googleplex, a truly attractive, fun and extraordinary workplace environment exists for Google employees. The interior of the headquarters is furnished with items like lava lamps and giant rubber balls while sofas, Google color coded chairs, and pool tables can be found at lounges and bar counters to express Google’s laid-back working atmosphere. The lobby contains a grand piano and a projection of current live Google search queries. The employees’ various needs are also taken care of by facilities such as the 19 cafes on campus which serves a variety of food choices for their diverse workforce, a gym, massage parlor, laundromats, and even micro kitchens, which provides snacks for employees who want a quick bite. This ensures that employees can be more productive and happy without ever leaving the workplace. A manifestation of Google’s creative and innovative culture is shown by the unconventional building design with high ceilings to let natural light in, durable floors made of tiny quartz stones, working British phone booths splashed in Google colors, and lounges that also serve as DIY libraries with cleverly placed low-reach book racks adorned with colorful Lego sets and cubes. All these innovative, creative and colorful designs are symbols of Google’s unique organizational culture that emphasizes on continuous innovation.

Google engages their employees by applying adaptive culture in the organization. From their core competency in search engine technology, Google has responded to customers change in needs by expanding onto the mobile market. The employees analyze, anticipate and seek out the opportunities to improve the organization’s performance by being proactive and quick in coming out with new technologies and solutions for mobile services. It aims to help people all over the world to do more tasks on their phone, not to mention the several different ways to access their Google search engine on a mobile phone. In addition, Google recently entered the smartphone market by launching the Google Nexus One smartphone in response to customer’s increasing need for smartphones, which is gaining ground on popularity because everyone is going mobile in the Information Age. This is the result of Google employees’ common mental model that the organization’s success depends on continuous change to support the stakeholders and also that they are solely responsible for the organization’s performance. The employees also believe that by entering into other markets beyond their core competency, the change is necessary and inevitable to keep pace with an ever changing and volatile technological market.

Google’s organizational culture places a huge importance of trust and transparency by having an informal corporate motto namely “Don’t be evil”. This slogan has become a central pillar to their identity and a part of their self-proclaimed core principles. It also forms the ethical codes of the organization where Google establishes a foundation for honest decision-making that disassociates Google from any and all cheating. Its ethical principles means that Google sets guiding principles for their advertising programs and practices, which is where most of their revenues come from. Google doesn’t breach the trust of its users so it doesn’t accept pop-up advertising, which is a disruptive form of advertisement that hinders with the user’s ability to see the content that they searched. And because they don’t manipulate rankings to put any of their partners higher in their search results or allow anyone to buy their way up the PageRank, the integrity of their search results are not compromised. This way, users trust Google’s objectivity and their ethical principles is one of the reasons why Google’s ad business had become so successful. The founders of Google believe strongly that ‘in the long term we will be better served, as shareholders and in all other ways, by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.’

Analysis of Google Culture

Satisfied employees not only increase productivity and reduce turnover, but also enhance creativity and commitment. Google is already having a playful variation culture in the organization for the employees. This can enable the employees to have an enjoyment environment and this will be able enhance the relationship between the employees and strengthen their bond to work as a team. An enjoyment environment definitely can let the employees to feel satisfied and subsequently will increase productivity. Apart from that, this will shape a convenient work process for the employees that will smoothen the decision making process for the management team. Google already identified the employees are the organization’s internal customers and this is the reason why it has been constantly giving employees a sense of purpose, enhancing their self-esteem and sense of belonging for being a part of the organization. The company was reorganized into small teams that attacked hundreds of projects all at once. The founders give the employees great latitude, and they take the same latitude for themselves. Eric Schmidt says that Google merely appears to be disorganized. “We say we run the company chaotically. We run it at the edge. This can adapt the culture Google and therefore they can individually to generate the ideas on their own.

On the other hand, Google hires employees that have good academic results but without practical experience and this will be a threat to Google in terms of their organization’s operation. Google is a results-driven organization and if employees with only creative ideas but lacking of skills to realize the ideas they have initially planned, this will absolutely reduce the productivity of the organizations. Google had been public listed on year 2004 and therefore Google had to take the shareholders’ views into consideration before making any decision. The shareholders had been strongly emphasizing on reducing the employee benefits due to the high cost invested on it. This leads to the organizational culture would be degraded and the employees would feel less satisfied and affect their produced results. Employees are very important asset the Google while the shareholders also the contributor of funds for Google. The management team has to weight the importance of both of the stakeholders for the Google as this will create a different organizational culture.

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