Book Notes: How Google Works

Book Notes: How Google Works

Book Notes: How Google Works

How Google Works offers an inside view behind Google’s philosophies on how to succeed in business. The book frames business from a technological point of view focusing on utilizing tech augmented brains to solve all problems within the business. Google’s overall strategy is simple:

  1. Find very large problems that have not been solved using tech
  2. Build a culture to hire the best people in tech
  3. Throw people at the problem and give them all the available tools to let them figure it out amongst themselves

Although Google’s philosophies are very pie in the sky – they clash against conventional wisdom – they are also backed by sound logic. The challenge for most companies and individuals will be finding or building a culture where the concepts can be applied without pushback from current norms.

Mental Models Extracted From This Book

  • Innovation
    • CEO must be Chief Innovation Officer
    • Set unattainable goals and fail well
    • Listen to lab coats not suits and produce prototypes not slides
    • Ideas come from anywhere
    • Think big
      • Ask what could be true in 5 years?
      • Try to imagine unimaginable
  • Culture
  • Human Resources
    • Smart creatives (Google)
      • Product folks who combine tech, business, and creativity.
      • How to attract
      • Need to care about place they work for
    • Organize around people with largest impact
      • Best work is done in small teams
    • Creating environment for success
    • Hiring is the most important thing you do
      • Don’t delegate to recruiters. Everyone should be involved.
    • Personality traits
      • Some divas are worth cateriing to
        • Knaves suck, some Divas are good
      • Generalists vs. Specialists
        • Favor generalists as it put emphasis on intelligence


  • Engineers at the center
  • Don’t chase competitors
  • Importance of speed
  • Smart Creative


  • Build the right environment
  • Don’t let rank drive decision making
  • Keep teams small
  • If you need to reorg, do it in a day
  • Organize around people with impact
  • Knaves vs. Divas
  • A culture of Yes
  • Don’t be evil


  • Bet on technical insights, not market research
  • Build 10x better products
  • Optimize for growth
  • Default to transparency
  • Don’t follow competition

Talent – Hiring Is The Most Important Thing You Do

  • Characteristics Of A Good Hire
    • Learning animal
    • Display passion
    • Don’t compromise
  • How To Interview
    • Leverage everyone in network
    • Continually build on interviewing skills
    • Schedule for only 30 minutes
    • Take a stance on the hire – either yes or no
  • How To Retain
    • Give disproportionate rewards as incentive
    • Create atmosphere people want to work in
  • Career Tips
    • Choose a large industry that is on a trend up
    • Need to know how stats / data
    • Continue reading
    • Know your 30-second elevator pitch of your position
    • Get global knowledge by traveling / working abroad

Decisions – The True Meaning of Consensus

  • Decide with data
  • If the decision is important, meet every day
  • Let each side know they’re both right (if they are)
  • Spend 80 percent of time on 80 percent of revenue


  • Need to repeat 20x until people start understanding


  • Focus on the user
  • Think big and set big goals to match
  • Ideas come from anywhere
  • Ship and iterate
  • Fail well
  • Deliver value first then money will come


  • Industries evolved to corporations, which evolved to platforms



Leave a Reply