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How Google Manages Knowledge

On how the worlds most innovative company manages knowledge


Google The Innovation Machine;

Innovation, the way to create;
Knowledge Creation Enabling Conditions;
Google , in the lens of Nonaka;
Lessons for the business.
Scope of Study

We are looking at How Google manages knowledge

only with respect to knowledge creation.

We have adapted Nonakas theory as a lens of seeing

the case and have identified that his theory on
enabling conditions for knowledge creation to be
the most apt for the case.

The research is on how Google has enabled its

environment for knowledge creation through
Google The Innovation Machine

In Jan 2010, Google launched Nexus One an elegant touch phone with comprehensive voice
recognition. Since Fall 2008, Googles Android operating system has powered various phones.
But, Nexus One is an extension of aspirations. A reach of passion. Google.

A constant innovator;
The technology leader in internet business;
Worlds best search engine;
A pioneer of the new generation businesses.
Innovation in Google
Knowledge Creation (Nonaka)

Intention Formulation of organizational intention through collective


Autonomy Autonomous acts that bring about unexpected opportunities and

increases employee motivation.

Fluctuation & Breakdown of routines, habits, or cognitive frameworks leading

Creative Chaos to intentional chaos. Aids to externalize tacit knowledge.

Redundancy Intentional overlapping of information about business activities,

management responsibilities, and the company as a whole

Requisite Internal diversity to match the complexity of environment by

Variety combining information differently, flexibly, and quickly.
Intention @ Google

Leaders know that it is important for them to create

environment favorable to innovation

Getting the most out of the knowledge worker..

At least half a dozen interviews to select the best candidates

An emphasis on rapid execution with intentional small teams
Letting a thousand flowers bloom finding ideas all over the
Autonomy @ Google

To sustain high quality employees and to create a huge bank of

ideas, motivation is a pre-requisite

Giving the space to work and the idea to build..

Low managerial control and higher degree of autonomy
Giving the time to create explicit investment in innovation
Nearly half of new products Adsense,Gmail, Google news
are discoveries of skunk time.
Focus is on upstream objectives and downstream results.
Fluctuation @ Google

A taste to allow changes and to encourage movements across


Promoting the spiral by strengthening commitments

A freedom to work across teams

Putting smart minds together and allowing them to figure out
who they want to work with
The ability to do things across projects without managerial
Chaos @ Google

A taste of failure and chaos with a aptitude to recoup from

mistakes is seen across Google.

Looking for a hit but encouraging a miss..

Creativity comes from people bumping into each other and not
from ordered travel plans.
A culture which says Please fail very quickly, so that you can try
Yields and impressive number of new products ( over 130 as per
latest info)
Redundancy @ Google

Technology platforms were shared, knowledge was made open

for learning

Making data a multi purpose ingredient..

Focus is on data and analytics, and not always chaotic

Insights gained from one product are used for development
of another
Deployment of a prediction market to reiterate new ideas
across employees
Requisite Variety @ Google

Understanding that many means good and different

means innovative

Allowing diversity to foster new ideas

Understanding the need for innovation and information across

boundaries Google in 110 languages
Striving to reach consensus by making the manager as an
aggregator of decisions and not a dictator
Allowing all employees access to information ( internal and NPD)
So, what is unique?

Making money without being evil.

Understanding that there is so much out there to do
Taking data driven decisions
Having open communication spots real and virtual
Allowing chaotic, random and fluctuated ways of working.
Catering to every need to try and remove any obstacle from
Budgeting innovation into job descriptions for all employees.
A paternalistic, analytical method of evaluating performance

A Culture for Innovation

Business Lessons

A effective combination of select principles has allowed

Google to be the innovation machine. We have identified them
Technocratic principles for excellence
Usage of prediction markets to tap knowledge
Providing budgeted innovation time
Making intellectual stimulation a mandate
Creating an environment of comfort better designed offices,
comfortable fringe benefits
Encouraging all-hands meetings often opening doors of
Using scientific methods to foster a culture of growth,
optimism and innovation

Enabling conditions of Knowledge creation, as extracted from http://www.trainmor-
Edelman Benjamin, E. T. (2011, April 11). Google Inc. Harvard Business Review, pp. 3 - 21.
Euchner James, H. A. (2011). The Practice of Innovation: Innovation as Management of
Constraints. Pitney Bowes.
INSEAD. (2009, November). Powering the Google engine: innovation is key. Retrieved
from INSEAD Knowledge Portal:
Iyer Bala, D. T. (2008, April). Reverse Engineering Google's Innovation Machine.
Harvard Business Review.
Jason, K. (2009, 10 13). How Google really does it.
Quarterly, T. (2010, March). How the Internet will change the nature of competition,
innovation, and company operations . (E. Schimdt, Interviewer)
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