A Google Insight Into Corporate Culture (Part 1)

Although the world we live in tends toward entropy, company culture tends toward homogeneity.  The question isn’t whether this is bad or good.  The question is: what does your homogeneity look like?’

I recently read How Google Works, written by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg & Alan Eagle.  As most of you know, Eric was brought in to work with Google’s two famous co-founders, Larry and Sergey, and served as the CEO at Google during its meteoric rise over the past decade.  Jonathan was the SVP of Products.  Alan probably did most of the work in actually writing/organizing the book, and so deserves special mention here.

In this post, and a few to follow, I am going to share with you some insights that I took from the book in hope that you’ll find them valuable in your own life.

Today’s topic is about the idea that people hire people like themselves.  I have written about how I made a big mistake doing this in the past, but in this case, when I say people “like themselves”, I don’t mean people who look like us, or come from the same part of the world.  I’m talking about people who are passionate about similar things, are focused on similar outcomes, and approach risk the same way you might.

Here’s the money quote from the book:

People who believe in the same things the company does will be drawn to work there, while people who don’t, won’t.

Here, the authors cite organizational psychologist Benjamin Schneider, and his attraction-selection-attrition model (ASA model), where job seekers tend toward companies in which they sense a fit (attraction), the hiring employees in the company hire people like themselves (selection), and employees who feel out of step with the evolving culture leave the company (attrition).

At it’s most basic level, this is well understood.  But I often get excited when I truly feel the depth of an old idea, and that was the case here.  It’s a fair question:  what sort of company do we want to be?  Who are the people most likely to make our company what we want it to be?  What do we have to be great at in order to succeed, and what types of people do we need in order to realize that greatness?

The danger:  once established, culture is difficult to change.

The opportunity: if we hire the right person, and reward the right behavior, excellence spreads.

The task:  think about one person who embodies what you want more of, and actively think about how your company can attract more people like him or her.

How is the ASA Model at play in your organization?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not constructive, excessively snarky, or off-topic.

  • Fritz Hesse

    Thanks Mike – interesting and I look forward your next posts on this topic. I believe there is a bit of a “get what you pay for” outcome from a company’s investment in culture development. Culture, like process, exists whether you define it or not. So why not be proactive? The most successful company’s I’ve been at have specifically, intentionally, and routinely groomed their culture as one of their strategic foundations. In my opinion, and in my experience, it pays off significantly.

    • http://michaeldiamond.com/ Michael Diamond

      Thanks Fritz!