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Notes from book Work Rules by Laszlo Bock

Having a mission that matters is super important.

  • people need to know that by heart
  • aspirational, inspirational
  • transform to a culture of excellence – invest in a process for hiring great people
  • pay people unfairly - give people the share of their remarkable value they created
  • decision making
    • explain how decision are made and why
    • make sure everyone is heart - seek them out
    • set a deadline by when you want to decide
    • brake the tie and
    • expect commitment from everyone in the team

Detailed notes

Introduction Source

  • at Google somehow brings to mind the idea of personal freedom, or working at your best
  • Laszlo Bock, the head of People Operation

Chapter 1: The secret to Google’s culture is its mission, transparency and voice. Source

  • mission is simple and powerful: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
  • profound mission because firstly, it gives moral, rather than commercial meaning
  • Google’s successful culture is its transparency.
  • CEO updates the whole company on the past week and carves out time afterward for a 30 minute Q&A session

Chapter 2: Hire the best people by looking beyond their degrees and focusing on the right kind of training. Source

  • exceptional employee: hire the best or train the average. As you may already have guessed, Google does the former.
  • looking for candidates who showed resilience and the ability to overcome obstacles.
  • hire someone who was better than you, and to seek out those who can make everyone around them more successful.

Chapter 3: Let your people – with the help of data – run the show. Source

  • do as Google does, liquidate status symbols and reduce bureaucratic hierarchy.
  • there are only four levels in the hierarchy: individual contributor, manager, director and vice president.
  • So how do you make the best decisions? Use data, not managerial opinion. That way decision-making is transparent and less biased. Thus, one of Google’s core principles is “Don’t politick. Use data.”
  • properly managed with data and open discussion, a power handover to employees is incredibly effective, resulting in the implementation of the best ideas

Chapter 4: Both your best and worst employees represent opportunities for your company – seize them! Source

  • They place outstanding performers under the microscope and help out those who need to make improvements.
  • high performance is dependent on context
  • studying other companies’ best practices won’t help
  • study their best employees using an internal research team, PiLab or People and Innovation Lab.
  • showed how a great manager is critical for top engineer performance
  • below average performance is the result of lack of skill or motivation
  • Google regularly identifies the bottom five percent of employees and offers them training, or tries to fit them into a more appropriate role within the company.

Chapter 5: Stop wasting resources on bad training, and use the best teachers within your own company. Source

  • the training is run by the wrong people, is sloppily designed, too general, or doesn’t get analyzed in a way that measures effectiveness.
  • Training should deliver specific information that people will retain
  • Anders Ericsson shows that the best way to master a skill is to split the work into smaller tasks and aim for a specific improvement in one of these small tasks through repetition, feedback and correction.
  • the best way to measure training isn’t by time or money spent, but through an improvement in behavior.
  • trainer for sales representatives, it seeks out the best sales manager with the maximum amount of total sales and asks them to instruct lower performing sales representatives.
  • it also creates a more close-knit community.

Chapter 6: Sometimes Google rewards failure and pays people unfairly. Why? Source

  • Bill Gates reportedly said that a fantastic coder is worth 10,000 times more than an average coder.
  • more effective ways to retain employees: offer experience rather than money.
  • Their mistake was rewarding with money instead of experiences, like a dinner for two or a team trip to Hawaii.

Chapter 7: Google confronts the dark side of its culture head on. Source

  • CEO Larry Page is responsible for the annual spring clean where he discontinues some products that are waning, don’t have great market prospects, or are being outperformed by others.


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