Google’s blog manager offers lessons from 9 years with the company
KVOX | Search Engine Land
Karen Wickre, who oversaw more than 70 official Google blogs on topics ranging from public policy to webmaster advice, has left the company. Search Engine Land's Pamela Parker writes that Wickre was one of the forces behind the company's foray into blogging to communicate about its work, starting with The Official Google Blog. In a post on her personal blog, Wickre describes some of the things she learned working at Google. A few of them.
Questions are valued. At the Friday all-hands meetings called TGIF, Googlers famously ask about everything from benefits to facilities to geopolitics and public policy; Google Moderator is used to solicit questions from those not in the room. Such questions are rarely softballs. Questioning product development or strategy (even about what’s already underway) is fair game. The point of asking is to understand better, raise unconsidered angles, improve on something or bring it to light. The assumption is: asking > information > exploration > greater intelligence > better outcome.
Creativity is encouraged. Googlers are often quite accomplished in their outside pursuits, which range very widely— from photography and music to Maker Faire and Burning Man to chain mail, wine, and comics. Many avocations are celebrated with company exhibits, talks and meetups. Quite a few of the eulogies about Steve Jobs mentioned his belief in the intersection of liberal arts and technology. It’s a byword at Google too.
Agility is key. Perhaps the most significant skill I absorbed, and the one that will help Google as it continues to grow, is to stay limber. It would be easy for an unbelievably successful company to start codifying The Playbook and refer to that and that alone for all future roadmaps. Much credit goes to Larry and Sergey, whose very natures seem compelled to question past (often successful) approaches in favor of bigger new ideas. ... As a work environment, of course, that doesn’t suit everyone. It can be messy, things never seem finished, there are long beta periods, you have to turn on a dime. To me, there’s no contest between this kind of ‘foolishness’ and a staid place where the checklist is tidy and the work is rote. Give me this road!