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Google Case Memo

In: Business and Management

Submitted By bjefferson
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Google Case Memo
1. Culture at Google
a. Diagnose the culture at Google. From the material provided, I believe that Google has a very unique culture that can be thought of as a very strong customer-responsive culture. Their company motto is “Don’t be Evil” which exemplifies their goal of developing products in the best interest of the customer. Although they deal with their customers in a virtual world, they have increased customer satisfaction through their innovations that are developed in order to improve the usefulness and efficiency of their products. Additionally, Google encourages innovation within its organization. Engineers are allowed to spend 20% of their time to work on “pet” projects, which has cultivated numerous projects. Some of the more successful projects include Google Earth, Gmail, and Google mobile which allows customers to get answers via text(Google gears down). Furthermore, this empowers the employees of Google to create and improve effective products that will increase the convenience and satisfaction customers will experience when using the internet. Google seeks to eliminate hierarchical structures by dividing employees into small teams that work on certain tasks. Also, Google offers employees with incredible perks that set them apart from other companies and increases job satisfaction and motivation within their employees. For example, there is free food, free fitness center, and a free doctor on site that the employees have access to. Google is very outcome oriented because they value creativity. Finally, Google’s culture creates an environment that focuses on team orientation and growth along with eliminating competitiveness within the organization.
b. Diagnose and describe the possible subcultures that exist at Google. Some of the possible subcultures that exist within Google are the Executive and engineer cultures. The executive culture is made up of the CEOs, vice presidents of different departments, and the subordinates. This group focuses on the financial survival and growth of the company. The engineer culture is a group that “represents the basic design elements of the technology underlying the work of the organization and has the knowledge of how that technology is to be utilized(Schein article, pg. 14)”. The engineer culture at Google consists of many employees working in small teams. Within these groups, the engineers are seeking to improve and create innovative products that will increase value for their customers. Schein argues that engineers try to achieve a ‘people-free’ solution which is evident in the Google engineer culture. Google’s engineers created a larger search engine that provided access to enormous amounts of information for customers which allows them to type in a search query and Google will present a list of relevant information. The essence of the search engine is to provide a technological solution to acquire information needed. “Engineers seek elegant permanent solutions that are guaranteed to work and be safe under all circumstances and, therefore, typically produce solutions that cost more than the executives believe they can afford(Schein article, pg. 18)”. When Google announced that they were only going to provide resources to projects that had long-term potential in order to cut costs the engineers complained. Some engineers, according to the article: Google Gears Down for Tougher Times, complain that they “can no longer tap the employees and machinery they need to develop their ideas”. This an example of how the engineers believe that their ideas for solutions are worth the costs that the executives view as a cost that can be cut. The executive culture at Google has recently been focusing on cutting costs in order to maintain a profit. Schein’s article states that the executive culture believes that the “willingness to experiment and take risks extends to those things that permit the executive to stay in control (pg.15)”. Google has only recently shown this to be a belief within its executive culture. For example, in order to cut costs and better manage product development, top executives are now requiring engineering vice presidents to rank the top 20 most projects within their units that they believe exhibit the most potential. The projects that made the list were granted the bulk of the resources and the others did not. This new procedure has enabled the top executives to maintain control of the risks that are being taken within the organization.
2. Think about the decisions that CEO Eric Schmidt must make regarding cut backs. In what ways may heuristics and biases be involved in his decision? Schmidt will most likely face many heuristics and biases in making decisions as to where he should cut back. For example, the new selection process for new hires seeks to employ only where “heads are needed (Google Gears Down)” oppose to hiring any employee who meets their qualifications. This could prove to be a trial and error experience for Schmidt if this new selection process changes the creativity within their organization and decreases the diversity that has proven to be successful in the past. Some of the biases that might affect his decisions include availability bias and escalation of commitment. According to Robbins & Judge, the availability bias is the tendency for people to base their judgments on information that is readily available to them. If Eric bases his cut back decisions on recent events oppose to looking at the entire history of the possible area in which he is looking to cut he might not make an effective decision. This could be because he is only recognizing recent occurrences that could be an outlier when compared to the entire past performances of a product or department. The escalation of commitment occurs when someone sticks with their initial decision even when there has been substantial evidence that they are wrong. This normally occurs when the person making the wrong decision is responsible for its failure. Therefore, if Eric chooses to cut costs in an area that he shouldn’t have, he might stick with his decision regardless of the fact that he knows that it’s wrong. For example, cutting the resources provided to engineers’ pet projects could later show that this was a bad decision if competing companies are increasing innovations that, as a result, take Google’s customers. Although Eric might be aware of this problem he might not correct his decision for fear that he would get the blame of the lost profits.
3. Google engineers
a. What motivates Google engineers? One of the main factors of motivation for Google engineers is the ability to achieve autonomy by being allowed to use 20% of their time on individual pet projects. These pet projects are ideas that the engineers work on in order to produce value for their customers and profit for Google. This allows them to use their creativity for the growth of the company. Furthermore, autonomy enables an engineer to experience responsibility for the outcomes of their work which results in higher job satisfaction. The high job satisfaction can then lead to higher motivation to complete higher quality work and complete tasks to benefit the company. Along with autonomy, an engineer will achieve task identity if their pet project is completed and implemented. Additionally, if the engineer’s product results in an increase in profits for the company then they will develop task significance. I also believe that the atmosphere created by Google motivates the engineers. The numerous perks available at the office, including everything from a fitness center to a game room, encourage the employees to build close relationships with other employees. These friendships promote trust, respect, and collaboration within an organization that can increase job satisfaction and productivity.
b. Predict the effects of Google “chipping away at the perks” on the motivation of Google engineers. The affects of Google “chipping away at the perks” on the engineers’ motivation can be predicted differently, depending on whether the perks are intrinsic or extrinsic. According to the cognitive evaluation theory, taking away extrinsic awards will have no effect on the motivation of employees. However, if there is a decrease in intrinsic rewards the employee’s individual satisfaction will decrease which will lead to a decrease in motivation. Therefore, since Google has implemented restrictions on which projects are provided with resources, this could affect the motivation of the engineering employees. The pet projects that the engineers work on allow them to pursue their idea which results in a sense of accomplishment, autonomy, task significance, and task identity. They receive task significance because their individual ideas are provided with resources in order to create a product that can be implemented in the hopes of increasing or adding to the effectiveness of Google’s website. Additionally, the engineer experiences task identity since the resources provided by Google allows the engineer to complete the piece of work. Furthermore, providing resources to help engineer employees’ dreams and ideas become reality encourages a sense of autonomy, which furnishes the employees with a sense of freedom. Thus, if the “chipping away” of perks pertained to something that could affect intrinsic awards than this would decrease motivation throughout the employees. However, if the perk removed is extrinsic then, according to the cognitive evaluation theory, the motivation of employees will not be affected.
4. What mechanisms does Google rely on for coordinating and controlling their employees’ work? One mechanism that Google uses in order to control and coordinate their employees’ work is by tying up the pay of more employees to performance. This allows them to not only track the performance of employees but enables them to see what their employers are actually doing. An example of one of Google’s mechanism for controlling their employees is by requiring different departments to budget the same amount for the same item. Additionally, ad-sales representatives now have sales quotas implemented by the company that they have to achieve. I also believe that Google’s environment enables them to coordinate their employees work. Their environment encourages team orientation, respect, trust, loyalty, and lacks hierarchies. The results of this environment results in employees being more open to coordinate ideas. And finally, I think that their small team structures within the organization makes controlling employees easier because the head of the individual group can report to the executives.
5. What advice would you give to Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt for making changes and managing during this changing environment? I believe that in order to make changes Google needs to establish a vision first. This vision should be an attainable goal. Secondly, the executives of Google need to communicate that vision to employees. In order for changes to be successful and permanent throughout an organization, the employees need to be aware of it and understand it. Next, they need to enable employees to identify with the vision by encouraging discussion on their opinions and ideas regarding the future of the company and other ideas for areas that need improvement. By allowing the members of the organization to participate in the decision making process for the vision, they will support and cooperate more throughout the implemented changes. This is a crucial step because if the members are resistance to change, whether it be because of individual or organizational reasons, the success of the vision will be greatly affected. Finally, Google should meet periodically to evaluate the success of different areas and address which areas should be eliminated or aren’t changing efficiently. The results of this evaluation will lead to a more successful changing environment that can be managed and successful. I would recommend that they carefully manage the changing environment through organizational development techniques, survey feedback and appreciative inquiry. Organizational development is a collection of planned-change interventions that “seek to improve organizational effectiveness and employee well-being (R&J, pg.270). Survey feedback is a tool that allows an organization to survey employees, identify inconsistencies from employee perceptions, and address these inconsistencies in order to solve them. Google can use this tool throughout its changing environment in order to enable an outlet for employees to express their opinions and concerns. After the employees have completed the feedback, Google should then engage in discussion in order to develop effective solutions. As a result, Google employees will feel like they are still valued as a member of the organization which will increase participation in supporting the new environment because they feel as if they participated in the change. Another intervention that can be used to help manage the changing environment is appreciative inquiry. According to Robbins & Judge, appreciative inquiry “seeks to identify the unique qualities and special strengths of an organization, which can be built upon to improve performance (R&J, pg. 273)”. Through this approach Google can focus on its successes rather than focusing on its problems. For example, Google can evaluate areas in which it is successful in and increase their profitability in that certain area. In conclusion, I believe that Google needs to include their employees in both the changes made and the managing of the changes. A detailed plan before implementing changes will also prove to be beneficial as well.…...

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