Google CEO Sundar Pichai says productivity is ‘not where it should be’

It seems that Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, believes that Google has room to be a more focused company. CNBC reported that the CEO recently called a sweeping meeting – and after saying the company is “not currently planning” layoffs – he said he wanted a more efficient Google.

“There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it should be in relation to our headcount,” Pichai said. The CEO added that he wants to “create a culture that is more focused on mission, more focused on our products, and more focused on customers. We must think about how we can reduce distractions and raise the level of product excellence and productivity.”
The call for more focus came after Google’s second-quarter earnings report last week, in which Alphabet, Google’s parent company, missed revenue forecasts amid what Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat called “the uncertainty in the global economic environment.” Last month, Pichai also announced plans to slow hiring for the rest of the year. Google also revamped its performance appraisal process this year with the goal of “creating an easier path to promotions” and “eliminating bureaucracy.” The 2021 New York Times Fair described Pichai’s management style as Google as a regressive and indecisive company in a “paralyzed bureaucracy”.
At the meeting, Pichai announced the “Simplicity Sprint” to get feedback from employees. The program includes a survey with questions such as, “What will help you work more clearly and efficiently to serve our users and customers? Where should we remove speed pits to reach better results faster? How can we eliminate waste and keep entrepreneurship and focus as we grow?”

From the outside, one of the main sources of Google’s inefficiency appears to be an endless cycle of product duplication and duplication, the worst example being the 10+ messaging apps that Google has produced since Pichai took over in 2015. Our best view of policy Google Desk comes from a series of inside-only Google cartoons by Manu Cornet, which frequently describes launching a new product at Google as the easiest way to get an upgrade, compared to maintaining and improving existing products. Pichai’s management style, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” means that these weaker areas of Google’s product line are ripe for disruption by these promotional projects that have no long-term plan. With no top-down leadership charting a course for these less established products, Google ends up prioritizing office politics over the competition.

It’s hard to know exactly what Pichai’s overall goals are. You are could Line up the narrative of “two of everything” with several keywords used to describe Pichai’s recent changes, but Pichai’s vague “competence” phrases make it difficult to put a finger on what’s changing.

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