Google: More Management Mysteries

September 6, 2022

I read a somewhat odd article about Google in the New York Times. That’s a newspaper, not a Harvard Business Review? Sorry. The world of “real journalists” has embraced the wonkiness of management gurus and Drukerism.

The article which caught my attention was named by someone — possibly a really busy editor — “Google Employee Who Played Key Role in Protest of Contract with Israel Quits.” The idea that an individual who accepts pay in return for work does not like a corporation’s direction is becoming a thing, a trend. The idea is that a company pays a person and that person gets to alter the direction in which a decision is heading.

Yeah, okay.

From my point of view, the person who accepts money to work at a company, presumably eight or more hours a day, has several options:

  1. Just quit. Hunt for a new job. This is a good solution.
  2. Keep quiet. Do the work. Cash the check or look at the bank balance in an online only bank app.
  3. Work harder, get promoted, and earn a position and responsibility so that one’s ideas can influence colleagues. This is a better solution.

The newspaper article skips these ideas and focuses on the actions taken by the employee. The implicit idea is that the employee’s approach to a problem was just wonderful. The company’s response to these actions was inappropriate, ill advised, and stupid.

Maybe Google’s approach to management is different from what someone of my age expects?

The one point in the article which struck me as significant was:

… Google had tried to retaliate against her for her activism.

The retaliation point is one that warrants more development. The newspaper article could have been boiled down to 150 words. The MBA- / the-big-tech-outfit-is bad angle could have been expanded, explained, and analyzed in an HBR-type of write up or a law review-type analysis.

What I perceive is a newspaper trying to to something its is not geared up to do well. Is the Google perfect? Nah. Do I think this situation reveals a facet of the online ad outfit which is troubling?

Absolutely.

Both the employee and the company could have been more old fashioned, which then would not have been “real news.”

That’s a problem.

Stephen E Arnold, September 6, 2022

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