Google rule #1: Don’t be evil

Here is a collection of things that Google does in the office. Well, i need not tell you that Google is one of the most successful companies in the last decade. But how do they do it? From time to time i like to take a peak at the Google-culture and try to understand what makes them tick…

So her goes:

First, they have this rule or motto – “Don’t be evil”. This was revealed in a playboy interview of the Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Some excerpts:

PLAYBOY: Do you subscribe to any particular management theories, or do you make them up as you go?

PAGE: We try to use elements from different companies, but a lot is seat-of-your-pants stuff.

PLAYBOY: How will you avoid the mistakes of many other dot-coms? After their IPOs, employees became more focused on the stock price than on their jobs. Many of those companies are gone.

PAGE: Those companies are not good analogues for Google.

PLAYBOY: But like you, they were Internet-focused technology companies. What’s the difference?

PAGE: A lot of those companies were around for less than a year or two before they went public. We’ve been around for five. We’re at a pretty significant scale, too. We have more than 150,000 advertisers and a lot of salespeople. Millions of people use Google. It’s a completely different thing.

PLAYBOY: And you’re profitable.

PAGE: That’s a difference, yes. The dot-com period was difficult for us. We were dismayed in that climate.

PLAYBOY: What dismayed you?

PAGE: We knew a lot of things people were doing weren’t sustainable, and that made it hard for us to operate. We couldn’t get good people for reasonable prices. We couldn’t get office space. It was a hypercompetitive time. We had the opportunity to invest in 100 or more companies and didn’t invest in any of them. I guess we lost a lot of money in the short term—but not in the long term.

PLAYBOY: Companies tried to buy you, too. Did you ever consider selling Google?

PAGE: No. We think we’re an important company, and we’re dedicated to doing this over the long term. We like being independent.

PLAYBOY: Is your company motto really “Don’t be evil”?

BRIN: Yes, it’s real.

PLAYBOY: Is it a written code?

BRIN: Yes. We have other rules, too.

PAGE: We allow dogs, for example.

BRIN: As for “Don’t be evil,” we have tried to define precisely what it means to be a force for good—always do the right, ethical thing. Ultimately, “Don’t be evil” seems the easiest way to summarize it.

PAGE: Apparently people like it better than “Be good.”

BRIN: It’s not enough not to be evil. We also actively try to be good.

PLAYBOY: Who ultimately decides what is evil? Eric Schmidt, your CEO, once said, “Evil is whatever Sergey decides is evil.”

PAGE: That was not one of his best quotes, though it’s memorable.

PLAYBOY: How does it work?

BRIN: We deal with all varieties of information. Somebody’s always upset no matter what we do. We have to make a decision; otherwise there’s a never-ending debate. Some issues are crystal clear. When they’re less

From time to time, Google indulge in playfulness as seen here.

And what about these sets of questions when you are being job interviewed at Google?

So what do you think makes the Google Culture tick?

Malaysian management. Road to wealth?


Where are our heroes today? Or more importantly, WHO are our heroes today?

I am asking you – the ordinary Malaysian wannabe success story. Sorry? Did you say Steve Jobs? Was that Bill Gates? Ooopss I am getting geeky… but in reality I heard nothing of that sort. I heard some whispers of some people wanting to be some well connected politician.

And why not? Hey, if you want to be rich quick in this country… let’s go into politics. Let’s play some golf, rub shoulders with some well oiled and well connected people and voila! bob’s your uncle!

In fact I am seriously thinking of getting into politics. Why? I’ll tell you why… I’ve worked my butt off for years – those late working hours, those expresso nights, those hard work trying to convince people to innovate, to driver operational excellence and to deliver value for the paying customer…. and where am I today? Well, slightly better off from where I started no doubt. But no where near that slick dude (let’s call him Kamal Johari, to protect the innocent) who started the same time I did and is now a business owner, government contractor, a huge loan borrower… but more importantly driving a flash new Merc S-class.

At least he doesn’t have everything… what dork would want to be seen alive (or dead, for that matter) in a Merc? LOL.

Although money doesn’t buy you good taste… it does help people who have good tastes to buy the right things. And I want my BMW M5.

So that does it. My hero from today onwards is that politician / or politically well connected slick dude called Kamal Johari. I am fed up of slogging. I want to get rich quick. I am gonna sell my soul to the devil for this.

Forget about innovating – it’s not important for your employees to think of good ideas – they just have to be great (government) liaisons. Forget about doing some REAL business. Forget about spending years of perfecting a single process and achieving the nirvana of operational efficiency. Forget about everything else.

But always remember the grease: never leave home without it.

So I shall now grease my way to richness. But somehow the Malaysian football team’s second humiliation in the Asian Cup is giving me some hesitation. No, not because I am a great fan of the national team… I have long given up on them. Not because my hero is a footballer (as I said, my new hero is Kamal Johari).

For your information, Malaysia has conceded 5 goals in each of the two matches it has played since the 2007 Asian Cup started. For those who play basketball and don’t understand the fuss on double digit scores let me put this into perspective: Malaysia conceded a total of 10 goals in two matchs, but only scored 1 goal. For the mathematical genius amongst us, this is certainly a bit of a bad news.

But I digress. The reason I am giving second thoughts to my grand plan of selling my soul for quick richness is this:


We no longer have REAL heroes. I used to admire the football players of old (no, i won’t mention the 70s and inadvertently reveal my age). I grew up wanting to play football. Then I grew up wanting to be a racing driver. Then I grew up wanting to be like Steve Jobs.

That is the problem. We have as a nation lost what is the true path to greatness. We have started to take shortcuts. We ditch real ingenuity, hard-work and good leadership, in favour of a path filled with shady deals, favours and…. grease.

And grease is a slippery thing. It is so easy to misuse and then starts the slippery slope downwards. The predicament FAM is in today is just that… we’ve missed out on the basic fundamentals of what makes a great footballing environment.

And today we are in danger of missing out on what makes a great economic environment. We need a few heroes to step up. Let’s hope that these people inspire others to do more good.

Creative thinking and problem solving

One of the challenges at the office is getting the workforce to generate creativity. Our company is in the internet business, and it is therefore necessary for all of us to be dynamic in our thinking so as to be ahead of the game – or at least at the leading bunch.

However, years of rigid education system, a culture of not challenging status quo & seniority, and an evironment of feeding information (as opposed to seeking information) makes creative thinking something of a curiousity than the norm.

The pity is that all this puts all of us at a severe disadvantage compared to other nations.

Yet, all is not lost. The first challenge is to foster this creative thinking environment at the workplace. There are many tools and techniques available.

The key to the adoption of creative thinking at the workplace is top management buy-in and sponsorship. Transforming an organisation from a passive to a creative one will not happen overnight. The changes will be painful. Some may be counter intuitive.

It is therefore also vital that everybody believes in the process. Not difficult given the existing cultural norms. Sponsorship is also vital given that the cost of change may be significant in monetary as well as human capital terms.

But these are the mere first steps. As usual, I have been doing a bit of my own research on the net – – almost randomly, I came across some material that could be useful. So check out – a site dedicated to improving Creativity and Innovation for solving problems woldwide, with that in mind, we provide a central repository for Creativity and Innovation on the Internet as a summary of tools, techniques, mind exercises, puzzles, book reviews etc, that is open to all – and can be written by all.

Feel free to share your thoughts here.