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Book Review: Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
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Book Review: Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock - Executive Leadership Articles

Book Review: Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

Executive Leadership Articles

Book Review: Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

dent of People Operations at Google, Inc., where he has been since 2006. Google’s campuses are famous for their casual attire, free gourmet meals, laundry service, childcare, and “80/20” rule, which allows employees twenty percent of their time to work on personal projects they believe will help the company. During Block’s tenure, Google has been rated in Fortune magazine’s “Best Places to Work” nine times, and has been in the number one position the past six years, so the writer’s cred is well-known before the book’s first pages are turned.

“It just didn’t make sense to me that no matter where I turned, people weren’t treated better in their jobs,” Block writes in his introduction. A career in business drove him to human resources because of this observation, as he sought a career in making the workplace better for everyone, and his approach throughout this book is not only to share what has worked for Google, but to suggest how Google’s model is not alone in its openness, trust in employees, and commitment to empowering its every employee, even to the point of taking most traditional managerial powers away from managers. Additionally, Block insists that despite certain pitfalls and tradeoffs, the Google way can work for anyone, and should at least be considered by forward-thinking companies.

In a move we normally wouldn’t recommend, this reviewer read the book’s chapters completely out of order, beginning with the intro and first chapter, then reading the rest in order of how interesting their titles are. It’s testament to Block’s readable style that the chapters are mostly self-contained. Yes, each chapter makes reference to certain ideas brought up in chapters before, but it isn’t difficult to figure out what those references are about. Not unlike those “…for Dummies” books, Work Rules! is so well organized and conceived that its sections are great for those looking for specific wisdom or testimonial, as opposed to a lengthy narrative or how-to.

Of these, a chapter near the end stands out as particularly interesting and useful: chapter 13 (of 14), “It’s Not All Unicorns and Rainbows” explains how not even Google’s system is perfect. Consistent with Google’s policy of transparency, Block explains how a culture of valuing employees can quickly turn into a culture of entitlement, and how openness results in leaked information. Yet in each instance, he makes the case for continuing with Google’s values, in some situations applying them as a means to a solution, and in others holding firm despite the occasional breach of trust. The writer, throughout the book, is consistent in his insistence that anyone reading can and should apply similar values to his or her own life and job. “At every step of the way,” he affirms, “our deliberate choice to be mission driven, transparent, and empowering has brought along with it tension, frustration, and failure. At minimum, there’s a chasm between the ideal we aspire to and the grungy day-to-day reality in which we all live. We will never be 100 percent transparent…But unlike other environments I’ve seen, we recognize that our aspirations will always exceed our grasp. It’s why achieving 70 percent of our OKRs each quarter is pretty good. And it’s why Larry believes in moon shots, which cause you to achieve more in failure than you would in succeeding at a more modest goal.”

 

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Book Review: Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock - Executive Leadership Articles

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