Google Chaos Management Style

Date: Nov 8, 2018

Introduction

In the management, chaos is unavoidable. Consequently, a system to address it effectively is a novel idea for any manager who wants to achieve a long-term stability in the organisation. Google has adopted a chaos management style instead of more leaning bureaucratic approaches. Chaos management style involves the irregular, non-linear dynamisms accorded with unpredictable behaviours in the organisation management. Due to the fast changing and uncertain organisational behaviours, coupled with massive loads of information, choosing the appropriate management style to survive the changes becomes difficult. In order to have a better chaos management system, complex adaptability, complexity theory and the chaos have to be analysed and factored in for a specific chaos. Chaos management can lead to both positive and negative outcomes. Therefore, a disturbance (chaos) can either converge towards the normal position or move away from the required condition (Rosenhead 2000, p. 1). In the case of Google, learning and experimenting culture dominates the management options, thus the company’s social system becomes self-organising. The write up focuses on the Google Plc that was founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1998.

Structure and Culture at the Google Plc.

The Google Corporation has been on a stable growth since its formation and it has led to it rolling out several landmark services, starting with the Internet. The company has since adopted a chaos management style where the staff members are free to experiment and come up with new ideas. The company grows and develops new services, which attract more customers and more sales that enhance its profitability. The company has kept the spirit of innovation through giving freedom to the employees and enabling them to choose what to do. The company has allowed its staff to work on the 70-20-10 management rule, where seventy per cent is dedicated to the current work assignments, twenty per cent on any related project of their choice and ten per cent for new projects (Frenz 2010, p.1). Such flexibility has enhanced innovations at the company and placed it among the world leading Internet and technology companies. In this management style, the top management of Google works closely with the junior staff, thus encouraging independence and creativity. The department of special project under the co-founder, Sergey Brin, allows staff and other members of the organisation to be innovative and creative-oriented.

Open Communication

The company also uses open communication that tributes to enhance its organisation effectiveness. The open communication gives a feeling of ownership in the company where the staff contributes to the company’s objectives. Holding the ideas that all staff members are important in the company’s progress makes the employees desire to contribute to and participate in the company’s success. The managers and staff work together and directly, with less bureaucracy. It creates a feeling of teamwork that empowers all the staff and encourages one working spirit and creativity. The cross-functional structure used by the Google Company has more elements of a teamwork approach than the bureaucratic processes applied by other companies. It gives a “small company” a feeling that every employee contributes and has hand-on participation, which cannot be ignored. The benefits enjoyed by the Google staff contribute to the sustainability of the company as they are attractive. They also boost the morale of the staff to always share the ideas and useful information that in turn contributes to the strength and growth of the company. The Google’s culture is more informal, empowering, involving, and equal with a strong dislike to bureaucracy.

Focusing on the Customers

Some of the ten principles applied by the company include focusing on the customers’ needs, doing one thing to the best, being fast rather than slow, and having the democratic way of work on the websites (Weldie 2009, p. 1). The office culture calls for informality; it allows the staff to work out in the offices and think differently. The organisational hierarchy of Google is more flat, with fewer levels of command. Since this is the organisational structure used by the Google Company, the decision making is simplified. It means that all the staff can effectively contribute to the company’s progress. The frequent feeling of “lacking a boss to report to” creates freedom that transforms into increased creativity and business creation.

The effects of the working of the Google organisational structure are the unlimited power that defines its continued success in the IT sector. The working format employed by the top management focuses only on the ability of the staff to be their own leaders while evaluating their working conditions and performance as staff. The culture of allowing the staff (employees) to think out loudly has enabled a culture of open communication where ideas can be worked on in a team ensuring completion and success. The structure of Google Plc has few portfolios in the bureaucracy levels. Such organisational structure ensures no creation of seniority and minority among the staff members, who are all well versed with IT and can apply the skills in enhancing the company’s operations. Transparency is also enhanced since the employees can contribute to the leadership functions of Google Company. Having an access to most managerial meetings and contributing to them helps generate new ideas. It also improves the company performance, which is inevitable at the international market. Talents are well used as the shared visions are comfortably enhanced through team work and assistance from fellow staff.

Since there is less linear and bureaucratic control in Google as opposed to most companies, the staff members are inspired to establish and maintain standards of their own. A distinctive corporate culture in Google inspires innovation, guidance and friendly relations between the staff members. The system of working on the company project of choice and having ten per cent of employee’s time dedicated to their own activity inspires the staff and instils high job satisfaction. Having highly motivated and satisfied employees is a gateway to success while teamwork exhibited by the open communication and assistance from all staffs is an indication of potential to succeed and grow.

Management Styles

The Google Company has employed the chaos management theory in its operations where the principles using quantum mechanics apply to the benefits of the staff and customers of the company. Managed organisation chaos can contain divergent systems, which have a negative effect in the operations of the Google Company (Antony 2009, p. 1). There are several management styles applied by other companies in the same league of the Google Company. Businesses have applied these management styles to improve performance of the organisations. The management style used by the Google Company has allowed openness and creativity in the work place. Information Technology engineers and software developers have free time to think of their projects that can be used to develop major projects when well used by the staff of the company. The management of the company allows the staff to work as a team, and thus it promotes the chaotic but democratic management style. The favouring of bureaucracy and the top whims enjoyed by the top leaders does not credit the operations of the Google Company but partnerships and working together is embraced by the company. There are also demographic, chaotic, MBWA (management by walking around), Asian paternalistic, Laissez Faire, consultative and autocratic among the many management styles employed by other companies (James 2011, p.1). The management style used by Google has both merits and demerits as compared to other traditional management styles employed by other companies. Organisational theory, as explained by Max Weber and other proponents, has a clear set of behaviours and responsibilities guided by policies, rules and set procedures. These set protocols are less observed in the Google Company and freer style of management is adopted (Inc. Magazine 2014, p. 1).

The Benefits of the Management Theory

The benefits of the management theory employed by Google assist in coming up with new ideas that can bring success to the company. The benefits include increased profitability shown by new innovations like development of Twitter, Skype and Web based applications. There are autocratic and permissive management styles that a company can use (RPI 2014, p. 1). These two are major categories that can be broken down into smaller subsets. The Google Company has applied more of the permissive style where the employees are free to take risks while innovating. Unlike the autocratic leadership style where the manager is the sole decision maker, the permissive style allows freedom for employees to account for their own decisions and actions. The autonomy given to staff is used for the benefit of the company.

The permissive and hands-free style of management has some negative effects. The Google Company has had some of its managers and staff who designed new projects, leave for other better companies or start theirs. Some of the executives have left to manage Yahoo.com while others have gone to manage Twitter and Skype. It means that the company loses its management secrets to its competitors. It has also created a leeway for the progressive and innovative staff to leave for better opportunities. The permissive management style has been associated with confusion where employees are not clear about the person to whom they should report. Lack of direction is common in this kind of organisation as staff is partially doing the company’s assignments as well as their own activities.

Motivation

Motivation is a factor of production and progress in all companies. Every establishment has to have motivated workforce to realise its goals and achievements as spelt out in their missions and visions. In the theory of motivation, there are needs, behaviour and satisfaction in a linear program, where the three are interconnected. Needs (wants) lead to the employees behaving in a certain way (behaviour) in order to fulfil specific satisfaction (desires). Rewarding system has been used to motivate employees who perform certain specific roles extra ordinarily. There is a hierarchy of needs which includes from physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem and self-actualization. As opposed to the home needs, the job needs may include best salary (physiological), work safety, job security and health insurance at the safety level of needs. Teams, co-workers and clients form the belongingness part of the employee’s needs while recognition, responsibilities and high status form the esteem level of needs. Many of the organisations perform training, offer career advancement schemes and promote growth and creativity at the self-actualization level of needs. Alderfer classified employees’ needs in three major categories that must be satisfied. They include ERG, that is existence, relatedness and growth needs. Therefore, it is necessary for employees to be motivated to enhance their satisfaction with the work assigned to them.

There are several motivation theories that include cognitive evaluation theory, two factor theory, equity and reinforcement theories (Analytic Tech 2014, p. 1). Cognitive evaluation theory holds that two motivation systems exist, the extrinsic and intrinsic theories each corresponding to the kind of motivator. The intrinsic motivators are associated with the interests of the work that include achievement, competence and responsibility. These factors are associated with job or task performed by the staff. Other external (extrinsic) factors include working conditions, feedback, pay and promotion. These factors are associated with the working environment and its control by persons other than the affected employees. Intrinsic motivators derive their own satisfaction and achievements from their own performance and goals. The influence of external factors like pay or promotion can reduce the employees’ motivation. According to the cognitive evaluation theory, the presence of powerful extrinsic factors like uncooperative bosses and unclear chains of command can demoralize the employees.

Another theory explaining motivation is the two-factor theory as explained by Herzberg. The two factors include hygiene and motivators, where absence of hygiene factors motivates the employees (Cliffs Notes 2014, p. 1). The presence of hygiene factors does not have any perceived effect, and thus if not present can cause a low score in employees’ satisfaction. For instance, a decent working condition, health benefits, pay, company policies, security and interpersonal relationships do not have perceived effects when present. However, their absence can affect the employees productivity. Motivator factors increase the motivation levels of staff when present and they include the intrinsic factors. Absence of the factors causes dissatisfaction as well as fails to motivate. The two-factor theory holds that the hygiene factors influence dissatisfaction while the motivator factors focus on the satisfaction.

Equity theory focuses on the benefits reaped from the rewarding systems. The actual reward is not a major motivating factor but the perception the employees have about the reward when compared to the efforts used in receiving it for an individual employee in addition to the efforts of the others. The unequal treatment of the employees can raise or lower motivation levels according to their perception levels. Motivation of people is derived from a ratio of ratios, where employees compare their efforts and contributions with those of other employees. In this theory, the employees have no full information on the rewards of others. Therefore, they use perceptions, inferences and rumours. Not all employees have the same sensitiveness to equity and there are expectations that things should improve in the long-term.

The other theory is the reinforcement theory as described by B. F. Skinner. Skinner used operant conditioning to explain consequences of some behaviours when they arise in the future. The four operant conditionings include positive and negative reinforcement, extinction and punishment. Positive reinforcement involves strengthening of a certain behaviour in the work force, for instance, selling more rewarded with commissions. Negative reinforcement, involved with behaviour strengthening, removes those factors that add stress to performance. A good example may involve removing a low status imposed to a beginner in sales when an employee makes a large sale. Extinction involves weakening behaviour where a person is not rewarded for performing an exemplary work. It leads them to dissatisfaction, and thus they become less motivated. Punishments are common in work place where, for instance, an employee can miss his/her salary due to taking a risk decision that ultimately fails. It limits the actions of the employees and they remain pinned to the systems and bureaucracy of the organisation.

The Dwindling Performance of Google

The dwindling performance of Google, that is, lacking of major discoveries and innovations that drive the world can be attributed to laxity and less focus on the innovations and creativity among the company’s staff. After the invention of the powerful Google engine, no major programme has been invented since then. Although the company has over thirty per cent of the time dedicated to special projects and personal development, the employees have not had major breakthroughs apart from the improvements on existing ideologies possessed and shared by the company’s staff. Having more focus on the customers than the product has contributed to the lack of major breakthrough project. If the company could employ its special project without looking at the money value derived from the usage of the customers (especially advertising media), it would produce great and exemplary inventions like its initial mother project, Internet.

Equity theory can be partially attributed to the laxity in performance of the employees where the staff who invents new ideas is not considered as the major beneficiary of the projects. For instance, an invention by the staff will be acknowledged as a project of the Google Company and not of the staff. It may increase the dissatisfaction level as the staff will expect to be given more compensation including the patent rights and shared benefits. Since the company treats any invention by its staff as a product of the company and not of the staff, it makes the staff feel demoralized and unappreciated. Some of them have left for other companies or opted to begin their own companies. It has happened when several top employees left the company in the last four years and joined the Google’s competitors. Other staff members also feel that any invention is not equally shared according to their inputs. Thus, they opt to go slow in their creativity and innovation projects.

Teamwork

Teamwork is highly appreciated in any organisation. Thus, it cannot be ignored. Google has embraced the spirit of working together for the benefits of the company where the employees have open channels for communication. The culture of sharing ideas and working as a team has been promoted by the less bureaucratic systems in place embraced since the company’s foundation. Team building is evident in the company’s system of working where it uses the groups to maintain the feeling of a “small company”. It gives the staff a direct contact with the top management and can approach any top officer to have a role performed. From the notes given, the Google Company enjoys the working of teams where employees are granted opportunities to express their ideas and are not penalised for any failure in their experiments. It is also clear that the company uses open communication where the staff can consult and share their ideas freely.

Equally, the bureaucracy installed in a form of the dress codes and official protocols is limited in the company. Therefore, the levels and distinctions created by the dress codes and portfolios are eliminated. It promotes uniformity where all staff members feel at the same level and can, therefore, partner as workmates and not as bosses and subordinates. The ‘Googley’ working style embraced by the staff allows flexibility and risky adventures that put the company at forehead in innovations as compared to others. The employees form a group of elite free thinkers, all with expertise in IT skills that enjoy same line of profession and creativity (Salas 2012). It applies principles of teamwork where staff feels as a part of a larger team making things happen. Team work is also promoted as explained on page two of the case study, where the staff is allowed to have bicycles and exercise balls in their working environment. It is an indication of the bonding sessions enjoyed by the staff of the company. The case study quotes that the staff work in small groups within the surroundings in a comfortable places enhancing creativity and teamwork. It is important to note that informality factors coupled with high bonding sessions among the staff enhances effective teamwork. The adoption of flat hierarchical structure in Google’s management system is a classical example where the top managers and the lower cadre staff have no major difference as the bureaucratic levels are minimized.

Grayson (2014, p. 1) explains that the teamwork theories are based on experiences recorded and explained by major theorists like Meredith Belbin, Dick McCann and Charles Margerison. In their study, team members were assigned roles and in other options where the individual team members choose what to do according to their personalities. Google process involves both assigning team members’ roles and the members assigning duties themselves. The company benefits from both establishments as the staff members do what they feel they are able to do better.

Conclusion

Therefore, it can be concluded that the Google Company has embraced the teamwork spirit as shown in its organisation structure, culture, teamwork and the motivation behind its great performance.

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