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Andy Grove Describes Google’s Organizational Structure as Brownian Motion

iinovate has a great podcast with accompanying YouTube videos of an interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.  They have broken out one segment where a luminary, in this case Andy Grove of Intel fame, asks a question.  Grove queries: 

“From the outside it looks like Google’s organizational structure is best described by . . . Brownian motion . . in an expanding bottle.  Does [Eric Schmidt] think it will work forever.”

I find Schmidt’s answer to be revealing.  It’s so convenient to think of Google, its inner workings in particular, in some uniform, consistent way.  I know that I’m certainly guilty of this.  The stories of days off to innovate, corporate massage therapists at everyone’s disposal, cappuccino machines in every closet and Guitar Hero duels whenever employees feel the urge are captivating.  It’s also easy to let visions of this environment overtake the realization that real work gets done in spades within the company’s walls.  Schmidt states that legal, finance, M&A, investment and even sales are all run in “a very traditional way.”  Further, he says that it’s only the “creative side” that gets all the attention and can be described as Brownian motion which, he thinks, is a reasonable description. 

Doh!  Of course.  That makes complete sense.  There goes my fantasy about the insides of the company being in some kind of total, but managed chaos.  I guess there is no tooth fairy after all.  Next, someone’s gonna tell me there’s no Santa Claus.

Check out the iinovate post for the other, longer part of the interview.

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for pointing it out.

  • Bill Tilley

    makes sense, at the end of the day a business needs to be run like a business with an awareness of the bottom line. One needs to make sure as processes are refined and improved that the business yield productivity gains from them. A business can run with the perks but productivity and profitability needs to be tracked a improved upon steadily.