What is wrong with MBA and how to be more like Google

This book is about Google, who are those people, how they work, and how they run Google written by their former CEO Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

I had read How Google works in 2015 and it had an impact on me at that time. I still remember and use terms like Hippo although I had forgotten where I had read them. I saw this book lying in my bookshelf, so decided to write a book review.


Who works at Google ? Author defines them as Smart Creatives. A smart creative is an expert in doing. She doesn’t just design concepts, she builds prototypes. Various examples are given through out the book defining them, and how to find and hire them. They are key to Google’s success.


Once you’ve found your Creatives, culture is the most important thing to consider. Lot of things are written about Google’s culture and how they prioritise and invest in what matters, and not fancy furniture. What is most important is computing power, and google has the most powerful data centers and software platform.

I had mentioned HiPPOs earlier. HiPPO is Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. At google, pay level is not considered in reaching final decision, but data.

Not everyone has culture like Google, so how to change it. Lou Gerstner, notes in his book Who Says Elephants can’t dance ? ” Its been said that every institution is nothing but the extended shadow of one person “. So practicing what we preach is the advice.


What is wrong with MBA ?

“But we can tell you with 100 percent certainty that if you have a business plan, it is wrong. MBA-style business plans, no matter how well conceived and thought out, are always flawed in some important way”

“Giving the customer what he wants is less important than giving him what he doesn’t yet know he wants”

Henry Ford,”If I had listened to customers, I would have gone out looking for faster horses”

This can seem heretical to traditional, MBA style thinking which dictates that you build up a sustainable competitive advantage.. “

And many more examples you can find what is wrong with MBA and strategy formulation when you are working in company like Google. And there is more with Eric’s Notes for a Strategy Meeting, Google’s Hiring Dos and Don’ts and the career advice which goes on for 8 pages. One of the quotes:

“It’s not enough to be great at what you do, you have to catch at least one really big wave and ride it all the way in to shore”

Decision Making

It all comes down to decision making. Culture, Strategy, hiring the right people all help leaders to take better decisions. Decision by consensus is prioritised, hence better meetings. Note on meetings can be helpful to senior executives, and about lawyers and coaches.

“Whenever you watch a world-class athlete perform, you can be sure that there is a great coach behind her success. It’s not that the coach is better at playing the sport than the player, in fact that is almost never the case. But the coaches have a different skill: They can observe players in action and tell them how to be better. So why is it that in business world coaches are so unusual?”


Objectives and Key Results is stressed to improve transparency. More about it can be found in the book Book Review: Measure What Matters OKR CFR

As the other guides in the book, there is a guide on how to over communicate well. And there are guidelines on how to respond to emails. There is a playbook on how to communicate effectively from board of directors to customers. This section is very useful if you are struggling to communicate well within your organisation.


Again MBA is mentioned.

“But innovation stubbornly resists traditional, MBA style management tactics.”

Everything Google does is designed for innovation, so it can’t be defined how to do it. Only what not to do. Examples of what worked and what didn’t are given like Google glass, or Google fiber.

The book ends by again telling importance of forgoing conventional wisdom, cranking up imagination, and asking yourself what could happen in your industry in the next five years. The tough questions that are given can be very helpful in strategy and decision making. One must go through these questions, and improve your business. I shall discuss about these questions in a separate article.