BLG Leadership Insights

Inspiring Innovation: Google’s Leaders Start to Listen

In late May you might have heard about Google’s new mathematical formula that helps managers identify employees who feel underused. The formula, still in its planing stages, is supposed to remedy, in part, Google’s recent retention woes by letting upper management know who feels left out.

Google is famous for it’s lax employee environment and envy-inducing office frills but now the company, with over 20,000 people, is in danger of alienating and losing some staffers and their new ideas. In today’s Wall Street Journal Google’s senior management are said to have started addressing the problem by opening up direct channels to top brass. The Wall Street Journal sums it up well:

Previously, its [Google’s] early-stage projects weren’t systematically vetted by top executives. Employees with a new idea would lobby their bosses for resources and time. Once approved, a project could linger or die without getting much attention form senior management.

Google is becoming big enough to potentially drown big ideas before they can make their way to the Google headquarters. There are lots of ex-Google employees who have moved on to create their own (or work with other) start-up companies, like Twitter, because they can avoid Google’s brand of bureaucratic hassle.

Still, Google’s technique of allowing employees to work on their own ideas for one day a week has lead to great innovations. Later this year we can expect to see the launch of Google Wave, a product claiming to change the way we all share information, which has been created by two brothers in Australia who were given resources, time, and creative control by Google’s upper management.

Innovation’s will continue to drive Google’s brand since fluctuating revenue growth, generated by U.S. advertisers, will make new ideas a growing priority. Google’s recent efforts to hear out more employees can help and it will hopefully give their staffers the feeling that they are not lost in a growing maze of open, designer, cubicles.