Culture Lessons From Google


In the recently released Fortune Magazine’s 100 best companies to work for, Google came out at #1.

This is the third time Google has earned the top spot.

In a related article, Google CEO Larry Page talks about some of the principles that their culture is built on.

Strong Sense of Mission

Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information”.  It drove the company when it was two Grad Students in a garage, and it’s motivated the company to continue to grow and develop.  As Page says, “That mission isn’t the job of 100 people.  It’s going to take a lot more.”

Freedom To Work On That Mission

Many companies have a clearly stated mission.    The problem is that for quite a few of these organizations, that mission mainly exists on paper:  behind glass in a pretty frame in their corporate lobby.  Page says that when you give people freedom to work on what they want, they want to work on things that are exciting and meaningful.  (See strong sense of mission above.) Projects with great meaning and purpose attract people to them.  (Google’s also famous for their “20% time“, where engineers get to spend 1/5 of their time working on whatever they want.)

Implied in freedom is trust.   Trust is critical to a high performance, high engagement culture.

Treating People As Though They’re Family

Page feels people should feel like they’re part of the company, rather than work for the company.  The “perks” (terrific free food, on site recreation, great health care, etc.) are a means to take care of people.  When people are taken care of, they’re happier and more productive.  The company is not “them”, but it’s “us.”

Create Great Opportunities To Do Meaningful Work

If someone was to ask you, “What do you want for your children?”

How would you respond?

For me, it’s  “I want them to have the opportunity live lives of health, happiness, engagement, meaning, purpose, and contribution.”

Google’s intent is to create an organizational culture that mirrors these same values.

What culture lessons can you adapt from Google to improve your culture?




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