3 of 3 Work Smarter Google Processes You May Want to Implement
Almost a year ago McKinsey Quarterly did an interview with Google CEO
Eric Schmidt and in it are three great suggestions on developing a culture
of innovation we would all be well advised to consider.
The 3rd suggestion has to do with how to create an organizational structure
that fosters innovation. The question put forth by the Quarterly, is this:
“Is there a type of organization that has an edge when it comes to fostering innovation?”
Eric suggests that innovation is inherently complex, not simple. Innovation,
in today’s global economy is something that needs multiple inputs drawn from
individuals who likely will work in and across multiple divisions or departments.
Eric characterizes innovation with the tension of originating from small teams,
but yet needing a collaborative input from a variety of sources outside of the
small team in order to get things done. He opens it up by underscoring the need
for a collaborative culture where people “self organize” to work on the most
That sounds like a majority of the people standing on one side (the interesting
side) of the boat doesn’t it?
Before you think that will tip everything over, flip his comments in reverse and
listen to what they sound like in terms of organizational structure.
1. We don’t innovate if people can’t work in small teams.
2. We don’t innovate if people in small teams can’t get access to anyone else
they need in the company.
3. We don’t innovate if a project is closed off to anyone with expertise who is
interested in contributing to the project.
4. We don’t innovate if our departmental structure creates boundaries that
prevent ideas and expertise flowing to where it’s needed.
That should get some neurons firing. Hopefully you start to think,
“Hey, we can do more of that.”
Before I wrap up this blog, let me cover one more thought about structure.
Eric drifts into equating collaboration with innovation later in the interview.
If you’re like me, when you read the four statements above, I’m thinking
that most organizations don’t have the idea and information visibility
that would allow people to know what’s happening in the next office,
much less the next department.
I wonder what it would be like for an organization to publish not only an
employee and contact list, but a “cool project” list. “Here’s what’s going on
across the organization – let the team lead know if you have something that
It begs the need for having a much better information solution than email,
shared documents on a server somewhere and PowerPoint decks.
In effect you need a management information technology, where you could
view and work on everything going on in the organization within one application.
The structure of innovation is messier than any organizational chart.
It starts with a small group, but needs to draw upon resources from
a larger pool of people to be competitive in today’s global market.
You promote that type of access by both a flexible organizational
structure, and by “not the customary” office information technology.