How Google Works

Just published: How Google Works by Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt and adviser Jonathan Rosenberg.

How Google WorksFortune spoke to the authors “about hiring practices, talent, and Googleyness.” Most interesting were their comments on how Google was able to sustain its culture even while growing so large.

Said Schmidt: “I think one way to understand Google is to understand that we built it to systematize innovation. If you have a way in which new stuff keeps happening, then the culture evolves with that. You don’t say ‘we’re going to preserve our culture.’ Instead you build an innovation culture that will take care of itself.”

Said Rosenberg: “We talk a lot in the book about setting the principles of culture from the outset. And I think we’ve continued to maintain those as cultural guideposts with all of the people we’ve hired since the IPO.”

The Independent uncovers some gems: “There is lots of occluding management speak in the book, but amid such zirconia, you find diamonds. One particularly arresting anecdote relates to the search engine’s foray into China. After setting up shop in Beijing, Google found its US operations under cyber-attack from Chinese soil. Their response was forthright: they said they would remove the censorship the Chinese had insisted on. In the event, after some to-ing and fro-ing they pulled out altogether. They lost the battle, but facing off with the world’s second most powerful nation shows both their gall and how the company sees its place in the world.”

The Financial Times has a blistering review: “The executive urge to write – or, more often, to get someone else to write under your name – about how you came out on top is understandable. But whether it appears as memoir, lessons in leadership, or a mixture of the two, “CEO-lit” is often based on a vain and solipsistic assumption that the author had a decisive influence on the success of the business.”