Friday, August 11, 2017

2017 Willow Creek GLS -- Laszlo Bock -- Insights from Inside Google

(Here at the 2017 Willow Creek GLS to learn about leadership for Operation Christmas Child)

It’s an honor to be here today.  When I was invited I wasn’t sure what the organization was so I did some homework and realized this is a pretty big deal. My next thought was that I’m not qualified to speak to this group. 

Early in my career I found myself frustrated in my work.  I’ve had 14 or 15 different kinds of job: tutor, teacher, librarian, baker, waiter at Olive Garden—every place I worked there was a gap between the values the leaders talked about and what they lived.  That made me angry and made me go down the path of human resources which got me hired by a small start-up called Google.

The problem with human resources is that every single person you work with things they know how to do your job better.  My mission is: find the best people; grow them as fast as possible; keep them at the company.

At the end of last year I left Google and started a company called Humu—named for a fish—and our mission is to make work better for everyone everywhere through science, learning and love.

I had this epiphany years ago and realized we spend more time working than anything else in the world.  We spend all our times with bozos someone else hired and it seems the experience of work should be meaningful. 

Google believed in open source—make everything public and allow them to test it.  They believed if we open-sourced what we do on the people side we can do some good.  So I wrote this book called “Work Rules”. 

The one question I get when I talk about how to make work better:  You worked at Google but I work at a small shop or I’m in another country, so how can this work for me?  I was thrilled to learn that what I’m going to share works everywhere.  We as human beings are fundamentally the same.  We all want the same thing: happiness, meaning, to have a voice in what we do.

Google was named best company to work for in 2007.  I was on a panel with someone from Wegman’s (who’d been in the top 5 for years.)  Though Google and Wegman’s were very different, we agreed on everything:  treat your people right and they will do right by you. 

What I’m going to share with you works. 

The most important thing:  Give your work meaning.  If your goal is to be #1 or #2, what do you strive for when you get there?

--you need to have a mission that matters.  Google’s missions was to organize the world’s information and make it accessible and useful. 

Survey of people to see how many have meaning in their work.  Looked at every type of job:  1/3 have meaning; 1/3 do it just to make a living; 1/3 see it as a personal game.  Across every field (even non-profits and ministry) this is true. 

Some people remember the duty but forget the joy. 

Adam Grant is a professor who wrote a book called “Give and Take”.  Early in his career he wanted to get tenure as a professor.  He went to a call center that raised money for college scholarships.  He found they were raising $1300 every week.  He went to the scholarship recipient and had them write essays about what the scholarship did for them for the call center workers to read.  The call center profits didn’t change at all.    Next he got scholarship recipients to write essays about the MEANING of their college experience and took those back to the call center to read.  This time the profits rose to $3100 a week because of being connected to meaning in the lives of human beings.  Next he brought scholarship recipients to the call center once a week and the profit rose to over $5000 a week. 

Concrete ways to instill meaning; 
--Figure out why you are doing the work you are doing and post reminders to yourself
--Find the people around you and ask them what motivates them. Find the people who are connected and have them tell their stories.
--Have people come in who are beneficiaries of what you do.
--Repeat the above again and again.


Next thing we’ll talk about is trust.  Do you believe human beings are fundamentally good or fundamentally evil?  I’m going to assert people are good.  Most organizations fail to trust their people. 

What meetings happen we don’t know about?  What goals are set we don’t know about?

Having a goal is important and you need to make sure people know the goal.  Publish the goals and share results. 

Bureaucracy Busters = ask employees how to make things better.  Ideas submitted—voted on—made changes


If you give people information about profit/loss they will use it to make good decisions.  Once in a while something will slip but if you treat people with trust and respect they will repay you by being more creative and adding back more value.

Professor at MIT explored productivity.  Partnered with NIKE in Mexico and found 2 plants where each employee was making 80 T-shirts a day.  Plant A—kept the same  but Plant B—let employees (all women) figure out how to run the work themselves.  Number of T-shirts went from 80 to 120 per worker and cost went down and employees were happier.

If you are a leader, give your people more freedom than you are comfortable with.  Ask “what do you think?” and then try whatever they suggest.

Have a suggestion box and the next level is to have the team figure out what to do with the suggestions.

Recruiting and Hiring – the most high-leverage thing you can do

We all think we’re good at hiring but we all do a poor job.  Did a study with  11 college sophomores who watched interview videos without the sound and asked them to assess the candidates and they came up with the same evaluations as the trained professionals.  They found we make snap judgments when we meet people and then spend the rest of the interview justifying the first impression. 

Two rules:
--Don’t let the interviewers make the hiring decisions.  Make them write up the interview and give it to someone else to make decision.
--Don’t hire anyone who isn’t better than you in some way

Give your work meaning
Trust you people
Hire only people who are better than you

Find that thing that drives you.  Ask the people around you what drives them. Keep doing this again and again.

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