Is Google's Culture a Strength or a Weakness?

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With Google's stock price in the $700 range as of today, it's kind of hard to find fault with the company's business. Yet that is exactly what the New York Times does in this recent piece.


Though ostensibly about Google's role in a shift that could see the bulk of computing tasks migrate from desktops to remote servers housed in monster data centers, the story offers a not-so-positive slant on what it calls Google's "distinctive, hurry-up model of building products and services, and its rapid-fire approach to recruiting and innovation."


Few people dislike organizational charts, management meetings and mission statements as much as I do. My last employer's love of micro-management literally drove me out the door. But I think I would be just as frustrated working for a company where, according to the Times, "graduates are routinely offered jobs ... without being told what they will be doing. "


Earlier this summer, financial analysts questioned Google's overenthusiastic hiring practices during an earnings call, leading CEO Eric Schmidt to say the company would be more "careful" about its head count. A recent Newsweek article spotlights a training program for associate product managers (APMs) which purports to teach aspiring executives about leadership through such activities as bartering sessions with Indian street vendors and midnight desert walks with Bedouin guides.


Google's emphasis on the unconventional is making it tough for it to replace retiring CFO George Reyes, reports Forbes. The CFO's traditional emphasis on the bottom line and commitment to corporate structure doesn't sit well at a company like Google, which obviously hasn't given much thought to succession planning, the managing director at executive search firm DHR International tells Forbes:

The investor community watches their every move, and they don't have a backup CFO or someone to put in as acting CFO. It's a signal they haven't been thinking ahead.

The Times article notes that Google faces "competition from Microsoft and from Web-based productivity software being offered by start-ups like Zoho and Transmedia as well as more established players like Yahoo."


In the end, however, Google may be its own worst enemy. The article cites a Burton Group report which questions the company's ability to "capitalize on the trends that it's accelerating."