How Google Works proposes to explain the systems and methods that make Google so successful — but of course we all know that the secret sauce is to make lots of money (which the authors gleefully acknowledge), and that’s what the search engine does for Google. Still, we have all seen workplaces spoiled by riches, where mediocre players are allowed to stay and hire more mediocre players, so Google must be doing something right — and the authors rightly point out the fanatical attention to hiring that maintains a high level of skills and, more importantly, motivation. This is, likely, the secret sauce: employees who will spend their weekends working on a malfunctioning ad search, and triumphantly post their victory in a 5am email… And Google does not reward such feats piecemeal either: there is no sharing in, financially, for such innovations, but it’s clear that glory accrues when assignments are meted out.
There are a few nuggets in the book, such as the idea to hold a daily meeting until an issue gets resolved (drudgery as a lever, nice!) but too often it veers into the obvious (e.g. “Don’t follow competition”). Google is very successful, but its secrets are not out.