Google: The Emerging Cancel Culture

November 16, 2019

Google has terminated a number of products and services. My favorite is Web Accelerator, but you may have other candidates. The cancel phenomenon — whether practiced by Microsoft with its wonderful Zune product or Hewlett Packard’s fascinating Autonomy deal — means that big companies change their minds. Poof. Time, money, and maybe a customer are two are vaporized.

Cancelled. Some in government may use the phrase “with extreme prejudice” to signal this approach to an ill-advised decision, a wonky product, or a troublesome entity.

The Verge, a real news outfit, published “Google Is Scaling Back Its Weekly All-Hands Meetings after Leaks, Sundar Pichai Tells Staff.” The write up approach this cancel culture move as “scale back”, noting that the Verge stumbled upon an email from Google’s CEO to the Googlers. The Verge revealed:

In the note, Pichai begins by praising what Google has achieved through its large workforce. “But in other places — like TGIF — our scale is challenging us to evolve,” he writes. “TGIF has traditionally provided a place to come together, share progress, and ask questions, but it’s not working in its current form.” He writes that employees “come to TGIF with different expectations,” with some looking to hear about “product launches and business strategies” and others looking for “answers on other topics.” Only about 25 percent of the company watches the meeting each week, Pichai says. He also says that there has been “a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF” and that those efforts have “affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics.”

Google Will No Longer Hold Weekly All-Hands Meetings Amid Growing Workplace Tensions” explains:

Google is getting rid of one of its best-known workplace features: TGIF, its weekly all-hands meeting. The company confirmed to CNBC that it will instead hold monthly all-hands meetings that will be focused on business and strategy while holding separate town halls for “workplace issues.”

Yep, unfriended, terminated, modified, or cancelled. Mostly the same action spun in different ways.

Several observations:

  • What’s the best way to avoid problematic staff? Avoid them? That’s one approach, and a path less fraught with legal hassles than firing the un-Googley.
  • Google’s challenges span numerous legal hassles from US jurisdictions. Is it 50 for 50 now? Not even major leaguers can bat 1,000. Google can and is. How many strike outs await?
  • The chest X-ray matter (please, see Fast Company’s story)
  • The billion dollar dust up with Oracle is back in court, the Supreme Court no less. See the Silicon Angle story, please).

What’s up?

Google’s activities are increasingly interesting. My phrase for the firm’s approach to management is HSSCMM which is short hand for high school science club management method. What adds a handful of kokum to the digital stew served in the employees’ only cafeteria.

How many Googlers enjoy this rare and hard to find spice? Perhaps Googler’s analysts can quantify their data and provide some insight. A Google Trends diagram might show a curve like this one from Scientist Cindy?

Just cancel that. Unfriend!

Stephen E Arnold, November 16, 2019

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