Google CEO Sundar Pichai says productivity is “not where it needs to be”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says productivity is “not where it needs to be”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai apparently thinks Google has room to be a more focused company. CNBC reports that the executive recently called a town hall meeting and — after saying the company was “not currently planning” any layoffs — said it wanted a more efficient Google.

“There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it should be for the workforce we have,” Pichai said in the report. The CEO added that he wants to “create a culture that’s more mission-driven, more product-driven, more customer-driven. We should be thinking about how we can minimize distractions and really raise the bar when it comes to… ‘product excellence and productivity.’

The call for more attention came after Google Q2 results report last week, where Google’s parent company Alphabet missed revenue expectations amid what Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat called “uncertainty in the global economic environment.” Last month, Pichai also announced plans to slow hiring for the rest of the year. Google too revamped its performance appraisal process this year in a bid to “create an easier path to promotions” and “break through the bureaucracy”. A 2021 New York Times A talk on Pichai’s management style described Google as a declining and indecisive company in “a crippling bureaucracy”.

At the meeting, Pichai announced a “Simplicity Sprint” program to get employee feedback. The program includes a survey with questions such as: “What would help you work with more clarity and efficiency to serve our users and customers? Where should we remove speed bumps to achieve better results? faster? How do we eliminate waste and stay enterprising and focused as we grow?

From the outside, a major source of Google’s inefficiency appears to be an endless cycle product turnover and duplication, the worst example being the More than 10 messaging apps Google has produced since Pichai took over in 2015. Our best insight into Google’s office politics comes from a series of Google comics previously kept in-house by Manu Cornetwho frequently describe launch a new product at Google as the easiest way to gain promotion, compared to maintaining and improving existing products. Pichai’s hands-off, “let a thousand flowers bloom” style of management means these weaker areas of Google’s product line are ripe for disruption by those promotional projects that have no plan to long term. With no top-down direction paving the way for these less established products, Google ends up prioritizing desktop politics over competitiveness.

It’s hard to know exactly what Pichai’s overarching goals are. You could align the “two of everythingstory with many keywords used to describe Pichai’s recent changes, but Pichai’s vague “efficiency” claims make it hard to put your finger on what’s changing.

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