For a long time, observers have tried to figure out Google's overall product strategy. It's not that Google doesn't have a vision based on its long-standing angle on people's needs and associated advertising. But when Google started rolling out hardware, then we started to wonder about the grand product plan. What have been the driving values that, in turn, confer respect and admiration for the company?
Meanwhile, Google was hiring some very smart people and unleashing them. Lots of things have been tried, and lots of things have ended up being cancelled. The consensus, at least what I've read, is that many of these projects were dreamed up and implemented because they seemed cool, and the hope was that because they were cool, they'd appeal to a broad range of people.
A lot of them did not.
This week, I was directed to a fascinating article by Thomas L. Friedman at the New York Times, who tells the story back in February of how a Google executive, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, Laszlo Bock, has reconsidered whether the prospective employee's G.P.A. rules. “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. ... We found that they don’t predict anything.”
We should welcome him to the club of experienced hiring managers who've been saying this for decades. Friedman continues the article by citing the many other factors that Mr. Bock has found to be useful. Those factors are exactly what you thought they'd be. What took Google so long?
What I find fascinating is that in our fast-paced technology development, the backwards looking window of wisdom is compressed. As data, experiences, web words and products increase exponentially, we can only look back in time so far before everything that was done before seems irrelevant. That, of course, can also lead to overlooking a century of insights about the basics of human behavior and needs.
When Apple presents us with TV ads and when Apple develops products, one of the things that we realize is that there are long-standing human values at work. Part of this comes from Steve Jobs, but part of it comes from the people who have trained under him and who are still at Apple. Some are irritated by these Apple ads because the values expressed fall outside their backwards-looking window.
One of the things we expect of Tim Cook is to not only continue to be an effective CEO in the operation of Apple, recognizing change and seizing opportunities, but also to preserve, protect and defend core values that Apple is famous for. Mr Cook doesn't have to be Steve Jobs. He only has to be himself — smart, insightful and a solid leader who maintains a proper focus. Then, everything important about Apple's values takes care of itself, and observers will seldom find themselves questioning Apple's new products as they have with Google's.
However, it's one thing to forget the past. It's quite another to institutionalize it for your own gain. And that leads us to...
Next: The tech news debris for the week of July 14.