Hello all and happy 4th of July (for yesterday) for all of those of you who are US based. We've finally got a glimpse of blue sky here in London today, and the Google interns have just rigged up some TV's so that we can keep an eye on what's going on in the tennis at Wimbledon while sitting at our desks - so it feels just a tiny bit like summer (finally...!)
Speaking of summer and of interns, I'm very happy to share today's article which has been written by Eoin who has joined our International Change team for the next three months on a summer internship. I asked him to share his initial observations having now spent a week with us. Thanks to Eoin for happily stepping up to this challenge!
In 1880 gaslights were the leading form of lighting used in cities around the world. The businesses behind them fought ferociously for market dominance. Two decades later the gaslight businesses were extinguished… a distant memory. The introduction of the light bulb had revolutionised the industry and the gas companies had been too slow to catch on.
Hello all! My name is Eoin Hurley and I am one whirlwind of a week into a three month internship with the International change management team based in the Google London office. Kim and the team have asked me to share my observations from my first week as I join Google with a completely fresh perspective.
The week was dominated by three Google run events giving me great exposure not only to Google’s vision for the future but also to their relationship with existing and prospective customers. Thus I made many observations, three of which I would like to share with you in this post.
My first observation relates to the relevance of the gaslight story. I learned this week that machine learning plays a growing part in our everyday lives, any business with their feet on the ground has their data in the cloud, and industries and companies are expected to respond to changing customer demands faster than ever. It is this increasing pace of change that gives immense pertinence to the gaslight story today. The story was told to the C-level executives of large businesses in Google’s London offices last Wednesday during an event called Atmosphere designed to educate and inspire people about what is possible with Google technology. The message was clear and visibly daunting to some members of the audience, in today’s rapidly changing environment businesses have two options: adapt or die.
This brings me to my second observation which is about Google’s relationship with its customers. Despite the adapt or die ultimatum being a potentially uncomfortable topic Google didn’t beat around the bush. Rather than focusing solely on their customers short term happiness, Google is very much focused on their customers long-term growth. This openness typified the exchanges that were to follow, with customers having the opportunity to grill Google experts on topics such as security and privacy. It became clear that these relationships aren’t based on the smoke-blowing, back-patting and molly coddling that many inter-business relationships are. Google’s relationships are constructed on the much stronger foundation of honesty.
My third and final observation stemmed from the Google for Work existing customer meetup for EMEA customers two days later. During one customer’s talk on their experiences they said they joined Google in ‘relentlessly pursuing progress rather than impersonating perfection’. Suddenly, when viewed through the lens of this culture of progress, the candid feedback and honesty that Google and their customers provide to each other seem like common sense. Through constant feedback, Google and their customers encourage each other to test, launch, iterate and if necessary fail fast as they strive for new and better ways of doing things. So the short term bliss of pretending everything is perfect is replaced by the long term growth achieved through incessant innovation.
Fittingly, it was in the final event of the week that these three observations coalesced. To round off the meetup we had a customer panel, where six customers answered various questions from other customers and some Googlers about their experiences since their organisations made the move to Google. Once the day had concluded, the sentiment among customers was clear, the panel session had been invaluable. Here is how it unfolded and reflected my observations.
- The pace of change: The customers spoke about how they had been forced to adapt to an elevated pace of change in their industries.
- Google’s customer relations: The audience asked challenging questions and received honest answers.
- Test and iterate to innovate: This frank feedback identified what had worked and what had failed and allowed everyone in the audience to learn from one another and take home some real insights and tips to help further embed change within their organisation.
George Bernard Shaw once said “Progress is impossible without change”. Thus while the increasing pace of change is often discomforting and potentially lethal, it is in fact an opportunity for progress, making our ability to manage change more essential than ever. I look forward to learning this trade over the next few months and ultimately helping businesses navigate change and seize the opportunity that these dynamic times provide.
Thanks for reading, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions below.