The Google Way: A Book Review (And a Chance to Win!)

By Linsey Knerl on 9 June 2009 (Updated 30 June 2009) 73 comments

First off, let me say that even though Google is a “tech” company, you don’t need to understand or even like tech to get a whole lot out of this book.  Even with an interest in the industry, I found myself skimming over some of the beginning pages of the book, with its basic explanation of the invention of page ranking and slight references to Boolean operators.  Rest assured, that if you do like that sort of thing, The Google Way: How One Company is Revolutionizing Management As We Know It by Bernard Girard will give enough of a taste to feel like you were on the Google journey from the beginning (but if you’re not even sure what Boolean means, you can join the rest of us at page 27.) 

Where the book really picks up is with Chapter 2: The Google Economic Model.  It immediately gets into Two-Sided Markets and how something that is as “free” as Google can be insanely profitable.  But even better than that, this books jumps directly into the management principles that open-minded and daring individuals will find almost comforting.  While the industrial and economic climate was ideal for the time Google was born (unlike the time we’re in now), much of what they did right can be carried out in any economy.  Here are my favorites: 

  • Chapter 5: The 20 Percent Rule – What could you do if you took 20 percent of your work day and devoted it to projects beyond the scope of your job description?  Would you use it to shop online?  Or could you collaborate on projects above and beyond what you could ever do in your basement at home?  Google took the idea of this intrinsic motivation and used it to attract self-motivated, bright individuals to its organization.  Once there, competition and a desire to be part of something new and important pushed them to create some of the most amazing open source accomplishments ever.  And they got paid to do so. 
  • Chapter 14:  Is Google’s Growth Sustainable?  This chapter is less about successful management principles, and more about watching Google’s history of problem-solving unfold in detail.  My favorite section explains click-fraud and spam, something most any blogger or online business has at least wondered about.  While it doesn’t settle on any one solution to a constantly-changing problem in online business, it gives us an inside look at what Google goes through in dealing with it every day.  Not an easy place to be, for sure. 

The tagline for this book is: “How One Company is Revolutionizing Management As We Know It.”  I would argue that it is less about management in the traditional sense (managing employees) and more about managing a quickly-changing online audience. Because it is written from the perspective of Bernard Girard, and not Google, the insights seem balanced.  He gives Google credit for evolving with the times, noting where they have been pioneers, and where they have simply learned to adapt existing practices.  Techies will appreciate seeing where it all began, and may find that the various footnotes and references make for an excellent list of suggested additional reading.  Those of us with more of an interest in the human side can pick enough from the pages to become inspired in our own business.

Want to give it a read?  No Starch Press has a few copies of The Google Way to send to lucky Wise Bread readers.  To enter the giveaway, post a comment below by June 30th, 2009. U.S. and Canada only.  Must be 18 or older to enter.

Wise Bread will not sell or use your email address for any purpose other than to contact the winner. 

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Guest's picture

sounds like a good read

Guest's picture

Sounds like a really cool book. It's always interesting to read about how thriving companies do things differently from the rest of us.

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Lesa

and I want a copy of that book!

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rachel

if only every thing could be free for consumers.

Guest's picture

Other than management innovations as mentioned in this book, one curial factor for Google success is simply search engines are the real windows to Internet, not web browsers as Bill Gates assumed before.

When it comes to Internet, we cannot do anything much online without a good search engine to help us find what we want.

The demand for search engines will always be there in the new economy.

Guest's picture
Leigh

Looks like a good read

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Laurel

Sounds like some good ideas for the new management! certainly something I'll want to read!

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Deb

I'd really like to read this one!

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Brenda

I would love this book!!

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Jimmy

This book sounds very interesting

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Matt

Sounds very interesting; I hope I win!

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GT0163C

I was commenting to a friend recently how much Google has become a part of my life. It would be interesting to go back and see how this one company has made such a big impact on my life and the life of many others in this country and world....all from the humble roots of a little search engine.

Thanks for the chance to win this book!

Guest's picture
Tymm

Would love a chance to read and review it!

Google is DA BOMB!! They are the "Apple" of the PC World to me - love them...

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jakob

I love google but i'm not "in love" with google.

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David Horowitz

looking forward to reading!

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Michael Salerno

Google is a very interesting company that we all should learn from. Their strategy is different and proves to work.

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Dan

Just the other day Google CEO Eric Schmidt talked to Fox Business about Google Apps integrating with Microsoft Outlook ... Android ... how they are really in advertising business ... looking for acquisition opportunities ... too much government involvement and restrictions ... launching digital book program ... and his #1 change expected at Google is "more innovation, use of cloud computing, mobile computing ..."
We have much to learn from Google leaders. This is expected to be a great book!

Guest's picture
Guest

Don't get me wrong- Google is awesome and I love the smart way its moving into every sector with its email, VOIP, documents, internet searches, and even into non-profits. However I have also heard a lot of complaints from Google workers. The Google facilities as well as the 20 Percent Rule were created with one thing in mind. To keep the employee there for as much time as possible. They are expected to eat, sleep, and breathe Google and not much else. I question what good can come of, as the old saying goes, putting all your eggs in one basket.

Guest's picture

Be the Google Way. Live the Google Way. Send me the Google Way.

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vidar5

Sounds like a great read, and it matches all the management books I've just started to read. Actually the books I'm reading are focused specifically on leadership but I bet this google book would spark a ton of ideas. Hope I get to read it soon.

Guest's picture
SAH

Sounds like a sweet book. Hook me up!

Guest's picture
Therese

This sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks for the entry :)

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BJM

I've always been intrigued by the business model at Google. The book sounds like it will be an interesting read.

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Gumnos

looks like it got mighty fine reviews on Amazon

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kd

I'd love to read it.

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Deedee

Sounds awesome!

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Josh

Wish I could work at Google! I have so many ideas that just get wasted--love the 20% rule.

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Laura

I'm always looking for fun management books to read - can't wait

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Guy

Yes, I'd like to be entered into the drawing. Thanks!

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sylrayj

I'm going to have to add this title to my list of books I want to sign out of the library at some point... I do think about search methods sometimes, and I like Google's products. It'll be good to see how they use that 20% rule!

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FrugalNYC

Sounds like a book I would like to pick up...from the Library ;)

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Jane Mason

This sounds like a great book. I'd love to have a copy.

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Abhisek

I read the book Mckensey way. This should also be a good read.

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Trevor

Looks like a good book. I would like to win a copy. :)

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Greg

Sounds like a very interesting book. It should be very educational to read some of the details behind their wild levels of success. Oh and my library doesn't have a copy yet, so it's this or wait :).

Thanks for hosting the giveaway :).

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Jacob M.

I want the book!

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karassa

Looks like a very insightful read!

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Jessica L.

I love Google and am facinated by their business structure. I would love the opportunity to win this book!

Thank you,
Jessica L.

Guest's picture

Sounds like a great book! I'd love to read it -- and my library doesn't have it yet, either.

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Amy

Who can say no to a chance at something free?

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Tracy

I would love to read this!

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The Diving Belle

now see? I had no desire to read this book until I read the wisebread review -- sounds very intriguing. . .

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Joe Enos

As one of the biggest success stories in recent history, Google must have some excellent ideas and stories that are worth learning about. I'm definitely interested in checking this one out - if I can be 1/1000 as successful as them, I'd still be a multi-millionaire...

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Stephanie S

Would def like to read this book...

Guest's picture

I'd love to win a copy of that book -- the way google does business is fascinating.

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Andi

Looks really interesting! I will definitely have to pick up a copy.

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Tyler

Sounds neat enough.

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Emily

Definitely sounds like a great book! I'd love to read it!

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Thomas

This post got me interested. Sign me up for that free give away.

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KelR1

Sounds very interesting!

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Jenny

I will investigate this book further. I've become a bit of a reluctant manager myself, and am regularly fretting about finding a way to do it right. It's easy to revile "the management", and often for good reason.

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MJ

It's always fascinating to read about business philosophies of successful companies especially ways to motivate its employees and managers. Should definately be inspiring and easily translated to improving and better managing our daily lives.

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moa

I would like to read this book.

Guest's picture

I'm fascinated by the mainstay of Google business and I'd love to read this book!

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Lee

It would be great to read this with my group and see what we can pick up from it and share.

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Jen

i would love to have a chance to read this!

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Anna

Google definitely knows what they are talking about when it comes to marketing and business practices. As a small business owner, I would love to learn from them. Thank you for the opportunity!

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Annmarie W.

This book looks great! I love reading about successful people and successful companies, and seeing how they made it!

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Steph

Could be nice to explore some new ideas. Couldn't hurt, anyway.

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Annette M.

I want to win this book!

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Dick in Detroit

The book has been on my to-read list for a couple of months.

Google is a fascinating company, and I've followed their progress closely. It's interesting to see how their public rep has morphed from The Savior Who Will Deliver Us from The Dark Force (Microsoft) to Yet Another Dark Force.

All of the posturing aside, they still run what I think is the best search engine and have released an incredible set of free tools.

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Zoltan H

Just finished reading this book myself, it's an easy read that could be done in a day, mixing management theory and Dostoevsky quotes. It's a rare business book that's actually fun to read, but Girard is smart enough to point out that this isn't a how-to book for would-be Googles, rather it's a set of ideas that worked in Google case and might be applied to other businesses - say French restaurants.

Link: http://yyztech.ca/reviews/book/the-google-way

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Jamie G.

I would love to read this book. It will be interesting to see if Google can sustain its dominance.

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karen Tappis

definately on my to read list!

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Jaime

Sounds like a great book for anyone to read. Sign me up!

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Guest

I would love this..

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Jessica

Great book. I'd love to win. Please enter me in the giveaway.

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karen

I use google several times a day. I find it to be the most useful tool on the internet. I have found prices on items that I've wanted to buy by comparing the items from different sites. It has saved me lots of money. In these tough economic times everyone wants to save some money. Plus, I love the wise bread site. It is a great way to save money and find free things. Keep up the great site.

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Christina Surette

I stumbled on this website and find the blogs/articles very interesting. I'd like a copy of this book too!!

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Book lover

I would love to have a FREE copy of this book!

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Branden

I idolize Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They took something as simple as a BackRub ( props to all that understand my quip there )in a Princeton dorm room and made Google, Worth a "Googol". Ok maybe in terms of dollar sense that may be a little exaggerated. But common, That company is worth a whole lot of money now.

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Anne

This would be an interesting read. Yes, please.

Guest's picture

Sound like an awesome read. Will pick that book up on my next trip to the bookstore!