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June 05, 2004

My Summer Reading (so far...)

I'm reading Good to Great (for the second time) and The Rise of the Creative Class right now as part of my ever-growing summer reading list. From an old Christmas present, a videotape series on being a good student and learner, I remember the speaker hammering the point that making connections between different ideas and topics that we learn about makes these concepts more concrete. Ultimately, we learn when we make connections between different subjects, having one of those "ah hah" moments when we realize that two seemingly discrete things that we've learned about are inter-related.

I experienced an "ah hah" moment with this NY Times article describing how Google's secret weapon of hiring Ph.D.'s is the company's real competitive advantage. Google has smart people on board and that what makes them special, so what?

No, it's more than that.
       1) Google has the right people on the bus, almost exclusively pursuing Ph.D.'s (a concept from Good to Great) and
       2) Google understands that highly intelligent and creative people like to associate with one another (a concept from The Rise of the Creative Class).

  1. "WORKING in Google's favor is its practice of putting new Ph.D.'s to work immediately in the exact areas where they have been trained - in systems, architecture and artificial intelligence. Google, the company, may falter, but Google, the human resources experiment, is unlikely to be the cause."
  2. "What trumps all else is Google's willingness to organize the entire company around the insight that top talent likes to work with other top talent, tackling interesting problems of their own choice."

I didn't want to jump on the Google-is-God-Is-Invincible-Is-Solving-World-Peace bandwagon, but it seems like the company is exhibiting concepts from both books, concepts that seem greatly interconnected (getting the right people on the bus & creative people like to associate together in their work/personal lives). Going out on a ledge to predict the future, unbounded success at Google would be premature but the seeds of its potential greatness are present. Will the company maintain it focus and dedication to its core ideology while also evolving in the marketplace? Could Google become the next H-P, which had two great pioneering business leaders who redefined corporate success? Time will tell.        

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