The Google Social Experiment is Failing

For many years authors and pundits have held Google as the
gold standard in the area of innovative management

Practices like nap pods, free food, laundry services, etc.
were designed to keep people at work for 12+ hours per

Why would any “innovative” company want to keep people at
work 24/7 at a time when we are attempting to initiate
Work-Life Balance Programs?

Well in Google’s case, it needed employees to eat, sleep,
drink, and breath the Google “Kool-Aide” otherwise it
would need to increase its workforce by a factor of 3. As
such, Google has attempted to make the workplace an
employee’s whole world. In order to do this, it needed to
provide employees with tools to connect with other
Googlers on a social level and this is one of the areas
where the social experiment is failing.

For years Google has prided itself on its open
communication systems with its numerous message boards on
which people could post just about anything. Then last
year, Google terminated James Damore for expressing his
views on women and biology and the social experiment began
to unravel. As it unraveled, word began to spread as to
how toxic the various message boards have become.

As a result of this open communication system, over 2,600
Google employees signed a petition demanding a safer
workplace simply due to the nastiness of many of the
postings on the message boards.

Now Google is attempting to inforce civility rules for its
message boards as it is finding that people purposely post
provocative issues relative to politics, religion, etc. in
order to get a reaction out of others as well as post
personal information about coworkers as a form of
harassment or retaliation.

Google is learning what real world companies have known
for years:
#1 Work is work, not your whole world.
#2 It’s fine to be a “company person,” but have a social
life outside of work.
#3 There is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech at
#4 Companies must control what occurs within the 4 walls
of work for the good of everyone.

To be clear, we are not suggesting censorship. However
when you think of it, small businesses have had it right
all along and can provide great role models for Google to
follow – isn’t that an interesting twist?


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They Do What You Do, Not What You Say

After executives are finished handing out employee manuals
and annual reports and are finished making speeches about
corporate results and values, the factor that drives the
culture and subsequently ethical behavior of a firm is the
personal example set by each member of senior management.

If executives verbally “trash” customers, employees will
feel that they have implied permission to do the same
about clients and even other employees.

If the leaders “pad” client invoices or their own expense
reports, employees will feel that they have tacit approval
to do similar things to customers as well as “pad” their
own expense reports, if not just outright steal from the

Despite what is put in writing or said, it is personal
examples that everyone follows. Set a good one!


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