Alphabet Spells Management Challenge

April 27, 2019

The Bloomberg outfit published allegedly accurate information about Google’s interesting approach to management. “Google Staffers Share Stories of ‘Systemic’ Retaliation” reports that there is a disagreement about how to run the online advertising railroad.


Was management responsible for this train wreck? Perhaps the employees were at fault. Were the staff on the train punished?

Whoo, whoo, whoo. That’s the laboring engine sound one can hear in train stations in places like Patna Station or Bayshore when one stands near the tracks.

The sounds from the Google, according to Bloomberg:

On Monday [April 22, 2019], two of those organizers, Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, wrote an email saying Google had punished them because of their activism. The two asked staffers to join them on Friday to discuss the company’s alleged actions, and during the meeting they shared more than a dozen other stories of internal retribution that they had collected over the past week. Like many meetings at Google, participants could watch via a video live-stream and submit questions and comments.

Chug, chug, chug. The Guardian newspaper sounds its whistle too.

The little engine that could continues to pull the freight for Alphabet Google senior managers. Bloomberg pointed out:

Google management publicly endorsed the employee walkout in the fall, giving the blessing for staff to vent frustration. But as dissent continued to rise inside Google, the company’s lawyers urged the U.S. government to give companies more leeway to reign in rebellious employees from organizing over workplace email. Google made that filing in a case pending before the National Labor Relations Board involving alleged retaliatory discipline against an employee. Another complaint involving alleged retaliation against staff was filed with the agency this week.

I think I hear the Alphabet Google Express announcement: “Unhappy passengers may debark at the next stop. Termination Junction. Next stop, Termination Junction.”

On one hand, a person who takes money to get a job, benefits, access to Foosball tables, and a Google mouse pad has an obligation to perform work. The idea is that the employer employs, and the employee does what he or she is told to do.

On the other hand, a person who does not like the work should do what? Quit? Protest? Talk with reporters from Bloomberg? Look for another job? Undermine software that sort of works?

What’s interesting to me is that the Alphabet Google train itself may come off the rails due to management missteps. I term the approach of some Silicon Valley high technology companies as the HSSCMM or High School Science Club Management Method. Sometimes its works and sometimes it appears to not work as the club members expect. What’s up with that?

Train wrecks just happen. Often with little warning. But in this case it looks to me as if one or two cracks in the drive train have appeared.

Stephen E Arnold, April 27, 2019


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