My youngest, Eva, is in the first grade, and they were introduced to synonyms a week ago. They were asked to identify synonyms like smart and intelligent, power and force, world and globe. From my adult vantage, I would have to toss in Google and greatness. I can see puzzlement on the faces of Eva and her classmates.
Have you stopped to consider what makes Google unique? I may be biased in calling them great, but few can disagree, realistically. Yes, they are the masters of search and much else on the web, but this is the obvious. To say they are great fails to explain the origin of greatness.
Given the effect that we see, an unbelievable organization, science dictates there must be a cause. What gave birth to Google's success and perpetuates it?
Origins of Brilliance
In the early 90s, Larry Page and Sergey Brit began collaborating on a 1996 research project and disseration at Stanford University, students working toward their PhDs. I'm not sure when they sensed their future internet wealth, but they focused on a web tool that would fill a need in the present.
I doubt they set out to be the king of search engines, a brand new field, but they headed in the direction of indexing and searching. Page was interested in the mathematical properties that were relevant to web dynamics, and together, the two friends soon had a "page crawler" that examined the web in a brilliant way, using algorithms to catalogue features such as backlinks to assign a "Page Rank" to each site. In an epiphany, the two realized that a search engine that used this data would be truly unique, mining and retrieving the most relevant information so that users would have quick access to the best on the web.
Google's Algorithms Are Not Its Essence
I'll end my overview here because the truly important ideas of Page and Brit are not typically seen as essential to the history (I can't locate a date for it). History too often deals only in facts and details, when the real story hides in the corners, piling with dust.
In launching this god of all startups, Page and Brit identified early on Google's, values, intentions, and purposes as an infant organization, and the two wrote so effectively that the vision will always guide Google.
This is brilliance!
Page and Brit were able to see clearly into the future to determine the direction - the grande vision - that would guide greatness. The trick was to plan for a company of indefinite size without restricting growth, but reigning it in at the same time. This is an incredible task for two fledglings in academics and business, without financial experience.
But they saw it. Page and Brit caught a divine glimpse of infinite possibilities for the future. They pinned these down in writing.
They crafted an eloquant, poetic, and visionary Mission Statement, which made all the difference. The subtly titled "Ten things we know to be true" provided the gentle guidance and core values that caused the company to thrive. Entrepreneurs and startups should not underestimate the power of this document because it contains Google's story, past, present, and future.
Transcending the Page
At a glance, you may miss the omnipotence of such a guiding document, but the words are the enduring force backing Page, Brit, and Google: not the algorithms, Page Rank, Panda, Penguin, or products. Google adheres to this governing vision, eloquant and poetic in simplicity:
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
- Fast is better than slow.
- Democracy on the web works.
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
- You can make money without doing evil.
- Google is a business.
- There’s always more information out there.
- The need for information crosses all borders.
- You can be serious without a suit.
- Great just isn’t good enough.
I leave them listed and alone, bare-boned. Although Google elaborates on each one, they are perfect here. The statements lay out the present while responding to the past with a revolutionary and non-traditional business model. And most importantly, the writing speaks to the future.
Google says it best, but for those entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups looking to take a leap onto the right foot, I'll consolidate what they do:
- Identify scope: They clearly define Google as a business that operates for profit, with the world its base. They identify search as the single focus (while some may debate this point, I disagree, while dodging).
- Delineate values: Google loves speed, information, people, and the world. They value their employees, and also those around the globe needing information, not just in the U.S.
- Establish long-term goals: Their ambitions are lofty, as is needed in a mission statement - profit, speed, boundless democratic information, the good, the great, and beyond.
- Define opposites: Google is not suits, traditional business, bounded, evil, or prejudice.
I suggest that you will adapt Google's principles, while generating your own. If you write down this formal mission statement permanently, to be reviewed often, your business has potential for infinite success.
Always keep people and the idea of the good at the core. Selfish startups are as thick as the air, and as empty.
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