Forget all those managment books about business as war and chasms and zen. Google is analyzing what makes a good manager within its own company, and came up with a surprisingly simple list. The thing about surprisingly simple stuff is that so few people actually follow it.
I know that some of my former managers would have benefitted from these rules, as would have I when I was managing people.
Interesting that Google went public with this just a few hours before it announced that Larry Page was taking over as CEO and Sergey Brin was going to take over strategic development. Google needs to get more products finished, and to better hit the mark when they release something. Did this experiment help them decide that they could do it with Larry and Sergey reasserting more control?
The New York Times has an article about what Google found. The list of rules is below.
NOTE: Sorry I didn't notice the rules were cut off on the right. Thanks Allan for providing the link:
I spent a lot of time at Google when I was writing my book (paperback version will be released in June as The Google Guys, with updates) and this study from Google has made me think a lot about the recent management changes at Google. The important thing is not that Larry Page is taking over as CEO, but that Sergey Brin is taking over as head of "strategic products, in particular working on new products."
I have always found Schmidt to be one of the more straightforward executives in technology. He said that the goal was to simplify management structure and speed up decision making. I believe him. I don't know if he decided to semi-retire or if Larry and Sergey decided it was time to take more control again, but I believe him when he says the hope is that things will improve under the new management structure.
New products are where the most improvement is needed. Did Project Oxygen find that the managers heading new products like Chrome and Android were following those rules, while the people heading, say, Buzz, were giving bad direction? Whether or not that's true, I'll bet Sergey is interested in trying his hand at this management style.
Sergey is one of those people who is so brilliant he was in danger of never doing anything very important. This was expressed by James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Truly brilliant people, having succeded so easily at everything, never learn to strive to do something challenging. They're just never been challenged growing up. It's a good thing he met Page, who pulled him into Web search.
Sergey now has a challenge ahead: Getting Google to get products out the door, and in good shape. Can he learn to be sociable and support his team properly? He loves engineers, but is a tough critic and knows his own genius.
Learning how to do that is going to be the biggest challenge he's ever faced. Good luck to him.
Google's Rules, in order of importance (with my comments on Sergey's ability to follow them):
(Detailed list here.)
1. Be a good coach (Sergey was always a one-man show until he met Larry)
2. Empower your team and don't micromanage (Ditto)
3. Express interest in team members' success and personal well-being (He's not the most sociable guy in the world, although he has matured a lot in the last decade)
4. Don't be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented (One of two things in the list he'll be good at)
5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team (See #1)
6. Help your employees with career development (Maybe. He cares about his engineers.)
7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team (Not sure. Sergey has always been a seat-of-the-pants kind of guy.)
8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team. (The second rule that will come easily for Sergey.)