Book Review: How Google Works

February 2nd, 2015

cover imageSchmidt, Eric and Jonathan Rosenberg. How Google Works. Grand Central Publishing, 2014.

In 2014 Google captured the #3 spot on Fortune’s list of most admired companies worldwide. The previous year, Google was ranked #2 but somehow the company dropped a position, overtaken by Amazon.com, a company despised for its shabby treatment of employees and predatory business practices. How this happened to a company with a “Don’t be evil” mantra is a mystery.

Google itself has been somewhat of a mystery, but in recent years, several books have been published that illuminate the practices of the company and the principles of its founders. A new book by former CEO Eric Schmidt and former VP for products Jonathan Rosenberg, How Google Works, provides a guarded look at the company as they dispense Google-style ideas and tools to managers on how to create a company where revenues grow exponentially and a work environment where employees thrive.

Schmidt and Rosenberg both began at Google in 2001-2002 when the start-up was three years old. Their book covers the early years at Google and discusses the launch of many of its popular products. Today both authors remain connected with the company. Eric Schmidt is executive chairman and Jonathan Rosenberg is an advisor to Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page.

Many stories in How Google Works are engaging, especially those about the authors’ personal experiences with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and other industry icons like Steve Jobs. Also interesting are discussions of Google’s operating principles and corporate culture, especially ideas that run contrary to accepted business thinking. For example, the chapter on strategy introduces the concept of “technical insights,” the standard for Google’s most successful products. The authors advise managers to create product plans with technical insights rather than to analyze the company’s competitive advantage as taught in MBA Strategy courses.

Yet the writing in this 250+ page book is uneven and could have been improved by more careful editing. Some the topics are obvious, “Firing sucks,” for example; Be clear in your email; Say “yes” to employees. The list of Google’s Hiring Dos and Don’ts includes this advice: “Hire people who get things done” and “Don’t hire people who are political or manipulative.” With tighter editing, readers would not miss the weakest 50 pages and the book would be better overall. Despite its faults, this book is recommended for anyone interested in working at Google or reading about technology companies.

Also available in Kindle, Overdrive eBook, Overdrive Audiobook, and Audio CD formats.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

New Movies for January

January 28th, 2015

Here are our newest DVD titles:

Boyhood
The Equalizer
The Good Lie
The Houses October Built
The Longest Week
Reach Me
Elsa & Fred
Dolphin Tale 2
Frank
Get On Up
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Guest
Horns
Kelly & Cal
Last Weekend
Magic in the Moonlight
The Maze Runner
No Good Deed
Pride
The Skeleton Twins
This is Where I Leave You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.

Featured Books: How to Decide

January 20th, 2015

decisive book coverHeath, Chip. Decisive : how to make better choices in life and work. Crown Business, 2013.

Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the new book, Decisive, have long been associated with Fuqua.  Dan lives in Raleigh and is currently a fellow at CASE, the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship.  Chip was once a faculty member at Fuqua, in the management area, before he defected in 2000 to become a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford.

Chip and Dan are also the authors of two best selling books, Made to Stick (2007) –  a guide to creating ideas that thrive — and Switch (2010) – a guide to implementing transformative change.  These thought-provoking books present academic research illustrated with anecdotes from corporate and everyday life. The authors break down complicated ideas into simple parts and show how to apply them to real world situations, both at work and at home.  Sprinkled with humor throughout, these books present strategies and practical tools.  Their new book, Decisive, follows the same formula and is already on its way to becoming their third best seller.

At Fuqua, Decisive won the vote among Fuqua staff as the featured text for the Ford Library discussion group, which gathered last week to share ideas about the book.  Participants considered the decisions that they were making in real time and how they were applying the principles that they learned in Decisive, including widening their options and testing their assumptions.  Concepts considered especially valuable were “opportunity cost” and the  10/10/10 principle developed by business journalist Suzy Welch – what impact will a particular decision have 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now and 10 years from now.

Fuqua staff members who would like to be included in future emailings for the next book discussion should contact me at mtrauner@duke.edu

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Library Maintenance Alert

January 14th, 2015

extreme construction image

Please pardon our noise between Wednesday and Friday, January 14-16. While things aren’t as bad as in the photo, a plumbing mishap in the spaces above the Library requires the services of sheetrock work and an industrial dehumidifier.

We are also replacing some defective lighting in the main reading room ceiling that calls for the use of a large, mobile scaffold which does make noise while operating.

We sincerely apologize for these disruptions to the Library environment; and hope to welcome everyone back for the Spring Term to a dry and well-lit Ford Library.

Photo courtesy of shorpy.com.

New Movies for December: Part 2

December 19th, 2014

Here the rest of our new DVD titles for the month:

Let’s Be Cops22jumpstreet_2
The One I Love
Reclaim
Stretch
22 Jump Street
Tammy
What If

 
You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.

New Movies for December: Part 1

December 15th, 2014

Here are the first new DVD titles for this month. Look for the others by week’s end:

And So It GoesPlanet of the Apes DVD cover
Automata
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Frontera
The Giver
Housebound
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Hundred-foot Journey
If I Stay
Into the Storm

You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.

Book Reviews: Focus on China

December 8th, 2014

book coversThis review of two new books on China is dedicated to our DKU MMS students:

Dear DKU MMS students:  As you prepare to travel to the other side of the globe in these coming weeks, know that you go with our best wishes for continued success and much happiness in your adventure ahead.

In The Contest of the Century, Geoff Dyer, a journalist for the Financial Times, argues that China is abandoning its geopolitical strategy of self-restraint and is pursuing an ambitious new agenda to shape the world according to its own interests.  The emerging struggle for influence and power between the two dominant nations in the world, China and the United States, is based on balance of power issues, such as military dominance in Asia, as well as practical tactics that promote Chinese economic growth, such as replacing the U.S. dollar as the global currency.

Dyer explains that the U.S. followed the same steps more than a century ago at a similar stage in its economic development.  America developed naval power to strengthen its own security and to protect its overseas interests;  At the same time, the nation created the financial infrastructure needed to replace the British pound as the international currency.  But the outcome of today’s rivalry is not inevitable.  The U.S. is still strong and predictions of its demise are premature — provided the nation gets its deficits under control.

In another new and remarkable book, Can China Lead?, faculty members from Harvard (Kirby and McFarlan) and Wharton (Abrami) discuss the economic competition between the two superpowers, China and the United States.  The authors describe China as a nation whose economic miracle has been powered by state infrastructure projects, but whose private sector has been constrained by poor governance.  China is controlled by an elite group of Chinese Communist Party members who obstruct the changes necessary to transform the country into a sustainable economic powerhouse.

Challenges to transforming China from an infrastructure state to a consumer economy are significant.  The lack of transparency and accountability of the Communist Party and the absence of rule by law impedes risk taking by entrepreneurs.  Intellectual property theft limits research and development in the private sector.  While the standard of living in China has risen sharply in recent decades, the benefits have been uneven, resulting in a perilous level of income inequality.    Clean air and water are in short supply, leading to social tension.  Resolving these problems will require those in command, the Chinese Communist Party, to share power and to cede more control to market forces, something they are unlikely to do peacefully.

Both books are recommended for readers who want a deeper understanding of the world’s new dominant economy, as well as international managers developing a strategy for expanding into China.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Reviews: Women Build Confidence, Leadership, and Will

December 1st, 2014

Kay, Katty and Claire Shipman.  The confidence code : the science and art of self-assurance–what women should know. HarperBusiness, 2014.

Two national news journalists show that confidence is more important to success than competence.  Partly genetic, confidence is inborn and some people naturally have more of it than others.  But with effort, confidence can be learned and expanded, through habits such as doing more and thinking less. Also available as an online audiobook.


Mohr, Tara. Playing big : find your voice, your mission, your message. Gotham Books, 2014.

Leadership coach Tara Mohr offers her own leadership strategies for increasing confidence in women.  She recommends listening to one’s own inner mentor instead of her inner critic, interpreting feedback impersonally, and making experimental leaps into action. Also available as an audiobook on CD.


McGonigal, Kelly. The willpower instinct : how self-control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more of it. Avery, 2012.

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, teaches a ten-week course at Stanford on willpower.  Students enroll in her class to get more control over their thoughts and emotions so they can achieve their professional goals and improve their relationships.  McGonigal presents strategies and exercises for developing self-control, training the brain for willpower.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Audiobooks for Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2014

Be sure you have entertainment for those long car trips over the Thanksgiving weekend, and check out some of our downloadable audio books from Overdrive. You can find popular business titles like The Virgin Way by Richard Branson, Roadside MBA by Michael Mazzeo, and Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. There are fiction titles as well, courtesy of Perkins Library.

Audio Book Image

For those of you who would prefer a more traditional format, we also have plenty of audiobooks on CD. Some of our newer titles include Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Creativity, Inc. by Edwin Catmull, and Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs by Yukari Iwatani Kane.

New Movies for November: Part 2

November 19th, 2014

Here are the rest of our new DVDs this month:Maleficient DVD Cover

Begin Again
The Grand Seduction
Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
Maleficent
A Most Wanted Man
Planes: Fire & Rescue
Sleepy Hollow, season 1
Snowpiercer
True Detective, season 1

 

You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.