Google is not only known for their innovative products that millions of people use everyday but also for a great place to work at. In How Google works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg share the systems Google has used and honed over the years and argue why they work. Reading it, I learned that Google go to great lengths to hire and support what the authors call “smart creatives”(defined below), and use data everywhere(hiring, making import decisions, etc) to mitigate human bias. There are many pearls of wisdom and insights throughout the book. I enjoyed it very much and would highly recommend it.

Bullet points are the quotes from the book(not necessarily in the order of appearance). Headers are mine.

On Smart Creatives

  • They are not knowledge workers, at least not in the traditional sense. They are a new kind of animal, a type we call a “smart creative”, and they are the key to achieving success in the Internet Century.

  • In the old world, you devoted 30 percent of your time to building a great service and 70 percent of your time shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts

  • The primary objective of any business today must be to increase the speed of the product development process and the quality of its output.

  • If I give you a penny, then you’re a penny richer and I’m a penny poorer, but if I give you an idea, then you will have a new idea but I’ll have it too.

  • Most people don’t like uncertainty. Smart creatives, on the other hand, relish the “we’ll figure it”” approach.

  • As Peter Drunker pointed out, the Egyptian who conceived and built the pyramids thousands of years ago was really just a very successful manager.

  • Our job is to think of the thing you haven’t thought of yet that you really need.

On Hiring

  • Scouting is like shaving: If you don’t do it everyday, it shows.

  • Henry Ford said that “anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

  • Favoring specialization over intelligence is exactly wrong, especially in high tech.

  • We mean not only someone who treats others well and can be trusted, but who is also well-rounded and engaged with the world. Someone who is interesting.

  • We institutionalized the LAX test by making “Googleyness” one of four standard sections–along with general cognitive ability, role-related knowledge, and leadership experience–on our interview feed-back fork. This includes ambition and drive, team orientation, service orientation, listening & communication skills, bias to action, effectiveness, interpersonal skills, creativity, and integrity.

  • A multiplicity of viewpoints–aka diversity–is your best defense against myopia.

  • Hiring brilliant generalists is far better for the company.

  • The objective is to find the limits of his capabilities, not have a polite conversation.

  • When asking about a candidate’s background, you want to ask questions that, rather than offering her a chance to regurgitate her experiences, allow her to express what insights she gained from them.

  • The primary criterion for serving on a hiring committee is that you will not be driven by anything other than what is best for the company, period.

  • The (Interview) process was designed to optimize for quality, not efficiency, and for control, not scale.

  • How do you know if someone gets it[technology]? It helps to look at their history.

On Leadership

  • “Your title makes you a manager. Your people make you a leader.”

  • In the inevitable showdown between speed and quality, quality must prevail.

  • Since the plan is wrong, the people have to be right.

  • It was a critical decision, and when you are considering something that is something that is fundamental to the existence of the company, you should meet everyday.

  • We think that if we have made a clever and thoughtful argument, based on data and smart analysis, then people will change their minds. This isn’t true.

  • As a leader, it is best not to get lost in details you don’t understand, but rather trust the smart people who work for you to understand them.

  • Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, at one pint had a “two-pizza team”, which stipulates that teams be small enough to be fed by two pizzas.

On data

  • Stats are sexy. Deal with it.

  • Let data decide […] but don’t let it take over.

  • Have patience, information, and alternatives.

  • In each of these cases, the development of complementary components led to a wave of inventions

  • We don’t seek to convince by saying “I think.” We convince by saying “Let me show you.”

On time management

  • If you read the note and know what needs doing, do it right away. Otherwise you are dooming yourself to rereading it, which is 100% percent wasted time.

  • Create a product, ship it, and see how it does, design and implement improvements, and push it back out. Ship and iterate. The companies that are the fastest at this process will win.

Life advice

  • If you’re working your butt off without deriving any enjoyment, something’s probably wrong.

  • One of the best, easiest says to get ahead in a field is to know more about it. The best way to do that is to read.

  • If you’re not sure if a course of action is right, the best thing you can do is try it out and then correct course.