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Google -- Working at Google -- The Faces at Google | Fast Company -
February 18, 2008
6 other people
Google is undoubtedly an awesome company and was certainly a great place to work the entire time I was there. But. These unreservedly positive fluff pieces really aren't doing the company a service. They irritated me when I was an employee given the too-perfect pictures they painted and what they missed. For instance, ideas at Google do not burst forth from the heads of geniuses and then find their way unimpeded to huge audiences of receptive users. Rather ideas emerge, are torn to shreds, reformulated, torn to shreds, prototyped, torn to shreds, launched to internal users, torn to shreds, rebuilt and relaunched, torn to shreds, refined some more, torn to shreds, put back together one last time, torn to shreds by SREs, tweaked again in a seemingly-endless frenzy of last minute work, and launched...whereupon they are torn to shreds by bloggers, journalists, and competitors. The magic of Google is that tearing to shreds, even when founders are shredding, doesn't often mean outright project cancellation. -
7 more comments
Sometimes ideas can't be redeemed, and sometimes good ideas don't make it because their originators simply give up. But there is (or at least was) a path to launch for folks with stamina and conviction. To me, this is a much more interesting and powerful story than those being told (over and over again) in these puff pieces. -
Putting on my PR hat, I understand the separation between the official story, and how the worker bees/engineers see it. It's often quite a disparity! Now that Google's IPO and honeymoon phase are complete, I expect we'll see more former Googlers and otherwise vocal folks talk about the cracks in the facade. -
Ditto everything Lilly said. -
This discussion has led to a story:
Part of the problem is that complex stories are harder to tell. Simple, "everything is so great" stories are so much simpler, though I believe Kevin Scott's story is more powerful. -
The interesting thing to me is that while the reality at Google is pretty different than the 'puff piece' articles filled with stories that become simpler and shinier with each retelling, the reality of how things work at Google now is extremely compelling. It's not as idealistic, it's not as fanciful, but it's exceptionally unique and powerful in a different way. Empowering 15,000...
wow, 15k... at this point they can dump PageRank altogether and have employees crawl, index, and rank manually (already do to some extent...) Have them Save Page As with Firefox, index with grep or copy-paste notepad skills, and remove spam by hand by looking up hotels in destinations they would rather be instead of doing all this from a Google cubicle -
As someone who came to the company fairly late in the game (early 2006), I saw more downside that upside to the "tearing to shreds" process that Kevin mentions above. I saw a lot of PMs working on products that simply had no shot in Hades in ever launching - those teams would have been better served to have had someone politely let them know that they were barking up the wrong tree. In...
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