Book Review - The Google Story

The Google Story is a business case study, a lesson for all managers. It is a book that ought to be required reading in Management Classes everywhere. This is the story of  an organisation’s growth from start-up status to world leadership. It is the story that tells the virtues of sticking to basic business principles and fundamentals, almost to the exclusion of all else. It is a story of how you can still have values, and yet do good business. And it is also the story of how, in crunch times, these same values can be stretched to the point of breaking.

Image result for the google story
This is a book that should be required reading not just for Business Managers – but also for politicians, especially those in the Commerce Education, and Finance Ministries; and for educationists in technical colleges. This book, taken in the right spirit, is a standing lesson, an exemplar, for something I have pointed out earlier as well – deeper college-industry linkages, which can eventually help unlock potential, and give a direction to young talent. It is the complete absence of such linkages in India on a comparable level & scale, that is a significant reason for talent not to reach its 

This book gives an idea of how excellent linkages between industry, think-tanks, investors, and colleges can act as tremendous incubators for talent; places where talent can grow by itself, and seek opportunities to create and co-create exemplars. The USA, built  almost exclusively on borrowed talent, can justifiably lay claim to having successfully provided the right conditions for the talent of the google founders to grow and prosper; even supporting them in the initial stages, setting the stage for the exponential stages of growth that followed. This is something we all can learn from.

Google grew out of Standford University, where the founders were PhD Students; it was here that the ideas that grew into Google were incubated and reached fruition. This was preceded by other companies supporting Standford, like Microsoft, which donated 6 Millon Dollars for a state of the art building for its School of Engineering. This is a relationship that has stood the test of time, as the new Company, Google, continues to engage with Stanford quite successfully. This is what India  requires – a deep, inter-related and inter-connected mesh between Universities and Organisations, which can unlock the true potential of the people – and help generate ideas as well as jobs internally

This book is also a lesson in values – the admirable way in which the founders established a set of  values, and managed to stick to it for the most part, is exemplary, and a standing lesson to all Business Managers. Throughout, the focus was on the core underlying values to the Google Brand; and nothing was allowed to compromise on that for the most part. This is a tremendous achievement, and one can learn a lesson from this. The point to be noted is that the values have to be framed clearly, articulated well, and should strengthen the overall business proposition, as well as provide a way forward. Not only that, the business mission statement should also arise from the value proposition

But beyond all that I have hitherto stated – this book scores for the lesson it provides in building a great product that is along the lines of what the customer demands. This is a book that gives this one lesson over and over again – sell what the customer wants & needs. This is a standing lesson in customer focus and customer centricity. Build your offering based solely on what the customer wants & needs; the fund flow will take care of itself with a little bit of innovative thought, attention to detail; and a razor-sharp focus on the customer experience will over time become not just a USP, but a strong barrier against competitive attacks and downcycles

There are two more lessons to be had from this top-notch case study : start-ups, and values. This book brings home in a positive manner the need for having a proper fund-flow plan in place; but at the same time, it shows how you can focus on your core product, and plan for funds by the side. You will never have enough funds – but that does not mean you don’t build the product. It highlights the need for connections, for practicality, for innovativeness and speed in thought. It teaches you how to scale up from a small garage based {almost} start-up to a big company, and the pains that accompany it.

Lastly, this book exposes how, under crunch times, values and principles can come under pressure; and can get stretched or broken or compromised. It is to Google’s credit that their values did not break, but they were stretched or compromised at one point in time, as told on page 269. In many, many ways, this book is not just a case study, but a textbook on how to build a successful company, and run  it with an equal amount of aplomb and panache.

It is written in a very entertaining manner, making for an unputdownable page-turner almost. The language is easy, the concepts easy to grasp, and the pace of the telling is nice and racy, making for a fun read. All in all, easily a must read book… 


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