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Abu Dhabi Media Summit: Gawdat explains the nine rules key to Google's success

A Senior Google executive offered attendees an intriguing glimpse into the secrets of the multinational internet company’s workplace culture.

“I will tell you we’re weird,”  Mohammad Gawdat, Vice President of Emerging SEEMEA at Google, told the audience in his keynote speech at the Media Summit.

There are nine key rules that Google applies in its bid to ensure that its employees remain innovative, creative and contented.

“The reality of the matter is that everybody is born innovative. We just suppress the hell out of them and they end up being unhappy about it,” Gawdat declared before taking the audience on the Nine Step programme that keeps Google healthy.

Innovation, Gawdat insisted, has nothing to with money. It’s about “passion and ideas.”

The work environment at Google is friendly and relaxed. However, the rules are adhered to strictly.

The first Google rule is “Start With A Vision.” Google’s mission – as it trumpets at every opportunity – is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

“Whenever you meet a Googler, ask them what is the Google mission. If you ever meet one who doesn’t know it, send me an email. I guarantee you will not find one who doesn’t,” Gawdat said.  

The second rule is “Hire The Best.” That might mean you end up with some strange and difficult personalities. They may be a challenge to handle, they may not be well rounded personalities, but they’ll also ensure that creativity levels never flag.

“By the way, the best are normally not the most expensive…but the idea is that the best are always the most difficult to manage,” Gawdat said, encouraging his audience to “hire people that shock you.”

The third Google rule is that “Ideas Come From Everywhere.” There is no monopoly on creativity. The bright sparks fly from every direction. “Everybody has a right to contribute an idea and most of the time those ideas are quite odd.”

Google rule number four is “Share!!” For ideas to flourish, everybody needs to know about them. There’s no point in keeping them to yourself. “Almost anybody at Google can have a look at our product pipeline – what we are going to develop.” Everybody in the Google ark communicates and there are extraordinarily high levels of trust. “We believe we hired the best and because they are so passionate about the mission, they keep it inside. Surprisingly, in a company of this size, we have very few leaks.” Sharing ideas makes the staff more “capable and productive.”

Rule number five is “Morph Ideas, Don’t Kill Them.” The work at Google is ever more complex. Failure (or at least relative failure) is inevitable some of the time. The thinking here is don’t throw the idea away just because it doesn’t succeed immediately. Refine it and work on it.

Rule number six from the Google commandments is “Speed Matters.” Meetings are sometimes scheduled to last only seven or eight minutes. There is a constant emphasis on keeping the ship moving. There are more than 4.4 billion queries coming to Google every day. That means there is no time to dawdle.

“I can save 45,000 man years of productivity for planet earth every year,”  Gawdat said of what happens if he manages to save “a second a query.”

Number seven on the Google is “Data, Not Hype.” Empty assertions and windy rhetoric are apparently not to Larry Page’s liking. The Google bosses demand that their staff have done the groundwork and can provide facts to underpin their arguments.

Number eight from Google’s sacred laws is that “The User Comes First.” Your task, if you work at Google, is to solve problems that affect the lives of millions of people, not to come up with ruses to boost the balance sheet at their expense. “If you solve it well, the money will follow some day. We don’t need to worry about how the money will follow but it will follow.”

Rule number nine is that the “Freedom To Innovate” must always be upheld.

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