Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg help run Google, one of the world’s best-known, most successful — and most controversial — companies. They’ve just published a new book, “How Google Works,” a guide to managing what they call “smart creatives,” the technically proficient, innovation-savvy workers whom companies in every industry are trying to recruit and retain.
Google is best known for its ubiquitous and highly profitable search engine, but the company’s interests include operating systems (Android for smartphones, Chrome for computers); productivity applications (Gmail, Google Docs); cutting-edge products (Google Glass); and applied research (smart contact lenses, driverless cars). For many smart creatives, getting hired by Google is considered a badge of honor.
The company, however, finds itself constantly in the midst of controversy involving regulators and politicians concerned about data privacy, and censors in places like China, where open data and political stability don’t mix.
Schmidt, now 59 and a tech industry veteran, was brought in as “adult supervision” in 2001 to help the young company’s then-college-age founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In 2011, Page took the CEO job, while Schmidt remains executive chairman. Rosenberg, 53, a Google executive since 2002, currently serves as advisor to Page.
Schmidt recently sat down with The Times at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to talk about the book. Rosenberg joined on speaker phone. Below is a transcript, edited for length.
Why does the world need another management book?
Schmidt: Well, it’s my first management book.
Rosenberg: Traditional management books don’t address the fact that the balance of power has shifted from companies to consumers. That’s made building superior products the paramount issue for companies today. So the key thing that they need to figure out is how to attract what we in the book call the new breed of employee, the “smart creative.” Those are the people who have mastered the tools of the current age to build superior products. We don’t think anyone has told that story before.
What can any company — not just a young tech company — learn from Google? And what’s a ‘bobble-head yes’?
Schmidt: In the book we talk about how lots of people have experience in business meetings where the [boss] runs the meeting, nobody ever actually says anything interesting, there’s no new data presented, everyone just says yes and then they leave and do whatever they want. We call that the ‘bobble-head yes.’
From a management perspective you’ve got to have the data, you have to have a conversation, you have to have a debate, you have to hear all different points of view, and you have to have buy-in. (continued…)
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