At Google, there is no manual
The arrangement is not to encourage employees to relax and do whatever they want. Google’s Vice President Megan Smith says that when employees are provided with a workplace that allows them to work freely, they find answers and ideas that are beyond their normal imagination. Google’s management knows very well that enhancing concentration and satisfaction is directly related to productivity.
This environment leads to a creative corporate culture. A meeting at Google is always filled with bold questions and passion. An entry-level employee can freely express their ideas to the managers. Google encourages employees to allocate 20 percent of their working hours on the things that are irrelevant to the job and that they like to do. Ideas from the 20 percent project has led to innovative projects such as Gmail and AdSense.
Google’s management philosophy is simple: autonomy and openness. They believe that talented employees can fulfill their job 100 percent and display creativity, passion and ownership without surveillance or control. The corporate culture of keeping employees satisfied has made Google an icon of innovation and it became the true competitive edge of the company. A Korean employee at the Mountain View campus said that Korean executives visiting Googleplex always ask if there was a manual. Most of them fail to see beneath the surface and simply offer free lunch to their employees to replicate Google culture at their companies. He said that they didn’t look further to learn the philosophy of Google’s corporate culture.
Since Forbes began the World’s 100 Innovative Companies list in 2011, no Korean company has made the list. While this list is not the absolute standard of innovation, we need to reflect on our corporate culture. Complicated reporting hierarchy, top-down command, the culture of prioritizing organization and outcome-oriented work are the norm in Korea. How about an entry-level employee openly speaking to his managers? What if employees do research for unconventional projects unrelated to the job? Or employees work flexible hours in order to enhance efficiency? It may sound strange, but when these scenes become natural, Korean companies and IT technology will get a boost.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 1, Page 29
*The author is a business news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
BY SOHN HAE-YONG