Elizabethan London

Elizabethan London
Tyburn was an infamous execution spot west of London, used since medieval times. The Tyburn "tree" - a unique, multi-person gallows - erected in 1571 became a popular public spectacle, drawing crowds of thousands.Tyburn Tree blog is less blood-thirsty but hopefully topical, interesting and informative, if slightly bent to my personal topics of interest - books, writing, history, technology, with a smattering of politics and dash of pop culture, science and the downright strange. So "take a ride to Tyburn" and see what happens...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In The Plex

"In the Plex" is Steven Levy's a highly engrossing and well-written account of the the rise of Google from a garage start-up to a $30-billion colossus.

The book outlines Google from its initial conceptualization by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, examining the rise of its search capability, the advent of the advertising monster that became AdWords and AdSense (still accounting for the vast majority of Google's revenues), and the sometimes painful growth of the company from nimble start-up to Internet dominatrix.

Of particular interest is the gradual development of Google's market direction and management approaches, specifically in fostering innovation and new business opportunities. The author cites both hits and misses, delving into how Google works, thinks and acts.  Levy examines the many challenges the company has faced with issues such as privacy concerns, copyright issues, the seeesaw efforts in the China market, and the failure to catch the rising tide of the social media market.  The book looks at the evolution of both management and corporate culture including Google's reticence for revealing much information about itself and its the famous 'Don't be evil' mantra.

Google's well-known 20% rule - whereby employees can spend up to 20% of their time working on other projects - is mentioned but is one area of the book that seems sadly under-examined in the book as is very much insight into Google's innovation approaches, beyond the interests of the founders.

Of note to anyone in management is Google's application of OKRs - Objectives and Key Results approach (something devised by Andy Grove from Intel) in planning and setting business objectives and direction across the organization.  The OKR approach provided Google with a fundamental and rigorous objective planning system that was scalable across the rapidly growing organization, helping the new company in ensuring strong objective planning and a cohesive direction.

Well-written and in-depth, In the Plex is well worth your time.

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