Google had no problem attracting the right talent as long as it had the coolest product ever. However, with new startups like Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, Groupon, and AirBnB making innovative products, the talent is walking in a different direction—to places that offer more freedom to build innovative products. The good news is that Google has realized that it can no longer rely on existing hiring practices to attract talented entrepreneurs to drive its growth; hence, the drive to hire the right people to design and build the next generation of innovative products.
Google and the large financial organization are similar in that their current teams are held back by the companies' existing organizational culture, politics, and business model, which were based on early successes. The organizations grew due to initial successes, and during this growth, they put together a set of processes ensuring that employees could make independent decisions consistent with the companies' strategic direction and business model. However, these consistent sets of processes also determined what the employees could not do. Over time, the organizations' capabilities were transferred from their people to their processes, which determined the "way things were supposed to work."
As these processes became entrenched, they slowly ruined the start-up organizational model and transformed the original entrepreneurial culture in more ways than one. These processes value consistency more than anything else and bind everyone, including the product owners and product managers.
Is something wrong with product owners and managers in these medium and large organizations? The answer is no. Put the same product owners in a different organization unencumbered by age-old processes and values and they will rise and shine like no other. Their accomplishments in these new organizations (start-up-like structures, essentially) will surpass everything else they have ever done. That's because organizations have capabilities—independent of the people and other resources in them. The key point to remember is that organizations can be very successful, yet still struggle with breaking into new markets or producing innovative products and services because their product owners are stifled by the current organizational culture and business model.
So, what happens if such an organization has a challenge to initiate an innovation? Stay tuned.
- Kundu, Anupam, "A Tale of Two Product Owners" Agile Journal
- Christensen, C. M. and Overdorf, M. "Meeting the Challenge of Disruptive Innovation." Harvard Business Review 78(2):66-76, 2000.
- West, Dave and Roy C. Wildeman. "Product-Centric Development Is a Hot New Trend." Forrester Research, December 2009.
- Waters, Richard. "Google Tries New Angle on Hiring," Financial Times, February 2011.