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Google mentioned in the "No Asshole Rule"  (View post)

Scott Cunningham [PersonRank 1]

Sunday, February 10, 2008
12 years ago4,793 views

Google receives two short mentions in the book, "The No Asshole Rule", by Robert I. Sutton, PhD

The book is subtitled, "Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn't". I've only finished chapter 3, but so far the book is a good therapy for me, especially after coming out of another Bay Area company that seemed to be infested with the type.

On page 56, he mentions that Shona Brown, Google's senior vice president for business operations, who says that the company acts on its "Don't be evil" motto by making Google a place where it simply isn't efficient to act like an asshole. "Efficient" is a good word choice. The second reference on page 91 basically reiterates this statement.

The things at Google that help make a difference, and keep the asshole count to a minimum are:
1) Interviews: First, candidates are scored on technical ability AND cultural fit. Second, interviews are done by a wide range of people who have little-to-no incentive to hire a person just because they can do the job. That is, there is very little downside for the interviewer to low-score a candidate for either inadequate technical ability or poor "cultural fit", since the interviewer is rarely interviewing someone to fill a position on his/her own team.
2) Reviews: Your performance review includes visible feedback and may include invisible feedback from your peers. So, if the people you work with don't like working with you, you could find it difficult to get a good review and/or be promoted.

These processes are not unique to Google, but they are a essential part of establishing an asshole-unfriendly work environment. And from my perspective, they seem to be working very well.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

"No Asshole Rule"

could you provide a linky pls ??

Scott Cunningham [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I got my copy from Amazon: ...

Above 3 comments were made in the forum before this was blogged,

Shawnee [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Although I appreciate the end goal of Google using such a process, it would seem to me that such a process would be very difficult if Google were not a place where many good, qualified people wanted to work. If Google were struggling to find people to fill a position, would they still screen candidates as much?

Bob Sutton [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #


This is from Bob Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule. A couple comments. First, I gave two talks on the book at Google, and my favorite part happened when a woman walked up to me afterwards and told me – in a kind of sheepish way – that she actually wasn't a very nice person in other settings, but had to be at work because it was the only way to get anything done. Now that is a powerful culture. Second, Shawnee does make a good comment that other firms do not have the luxury of screening out so many people, but at every level of firm, from law firms like Perkins Coie, to the Men's Wearhouse, to airlines (JetBlue and Southwesat vs. the rest of the U.S. Airlines) you can see how some organizations work to screen-out jerks and to make it "inefficient" to act like one, and others – consider Oracle and the old Citibank (I know less about them since the merger) seem to have the opposite culture.

Bob Sutton

Thomas [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

The no asshole rule is bullshit. People at Google will start being assholes as soon as they start missing earnings targets on a regular basis. Until then they can get away with not causing conflict because the core product makes so much money that it doesn't really matter...
Assholes can cut through the bureaucracy and the idiocy that encases so many firms and can generate meaningful action. Some of the best managers I've seen were big assholes when they needed to be. The worst managers are the go-along-to-get-along (and-nobody-gets-anywhere) types.

Motti [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Thomas: The bureaucracy/idiocy is normally created by a-holes in the first place. It helps that there's little bureaucracy/idiocy at Google for people to have to cut through!

The NA rule working at Google is not a temporary circumstantial thing borne from success. It's a carefully managed and engineered culture where people actively work to ensure the "rule" is maintained by screening hires initially and everyone working together to ensure bad behavior isn't acceptable.

When I was working there is was great to see people quickly apologising if they (say) posted something on an internal discussion list that was judgmental/insensitive and as a result this rarely occurred even on these discussion lists, let alone in face-to-face interaction.

I've worked at other tech companies with relaxed culture but nothing compares to the way the "NA rule" (which seems to me a good way to summarise it) is actively enforced at Google – it's one of the reasons people want to work there.

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