Most companies and brands become great for doing one thing and doing it better or quicker or smarter than other people. Many of us have worked for these companies at some time and that single-minded focus is as intoxicating to be part of as it is easy (intellectually at least) to manage. But life and markets tend to catch up and competitors start to close in on those first mover advantages and, inevitably, the single-minded focus has to give way to a slightly broader vision where what other people are doing affects you. I wonder if Google just passed that point? Their announcement of OpenSocial was obviously driven (even if only in timing) by what Facebook has achieved and their list of recent acquisitions is very long. A great search and advertising-only model requires, again with respect, a much less sophisticated type of management than the diverse 2.0 conglomerate that Google is now. Peripheral vision, the ability to compromise, to work globally rather than just internationalising US ways, the ability to absorb other working cultures whilst recognising that the mothership has to change in the process poses grown-up old-fashioned management challenges. I suspect that a lot of the people who got Google to where it is are not the best suited for its future. I’m going to suggest that how the firm manages this maturing process is as important as its technical and engineering breakthroughs. Growing up can be painful and not every promising child turns into a well-rounded adult.
[tags] Google [/tags]
Disclosure: Edelman works for Microsoft