Bookcase : What Would Google Do?

• By Jeff Jarvis • Collins Business • RRP $40.00

Watch Google! Like tsunami warning, this commercial, technological and social phenomenon threatens to sweep all before it.
There might be tad of hyperbole or overstatement in that warning but, I suspect, just tad. The author of recently released What Would Google Do? Jeff Jarvis, calls Google “an avalanche” that has only just begun “to tumble down the mountain”. Everyone in business and politics should understand just what Google represents – and it is far more than smart online search service.
Google, according to Jarvis, offers business model for the future, revolutionary use of new communications technologies that is turning the media and marketing worlds on their heads, and management tool that will transform our work-a-day world. “Google,” he writes, “is the first post-media company.”
Its success comes from counter-intuitive understanding that the economy is made up of mass of niches, that there is no such thing as mass and, that “small is the new big”. The company sees what it has to offer not as product, but as service, “a means of enabling others”, that so far knows no limits.
Google is the fastest growing company in history. The reasons for that outstrip simple explanation that it has created great product. Google lies at the centre of perfect storm.
The old world is, for oh so many reasons, under threat. And while there is no reason to think Google offers any answers to sad central issues of financial greed, political mistrust, economic mismanagement and outdated organisational management, it offers some hope that the public could, in future, wield more positive power than they have done in the past.
Jarvis is successful print journalist who, first of all, understood what Google was doing to his media world. He then began to appreciate what Google could do for others and, in particular, for disgruntled customers. His personal encounter with customer-unfriendly technology company Dell sets the book off to compelling start. His book, like Google itself, then grows in scope and dimension.
What Would Google Do? is defining text. It may not be the best constructed book of its genre on the market, but it is thoughtful, well researched, practical and unquestionably visionary.
Perhaps the most relevant chapter for managers is entitled “New Society – elegant organisation”. Jarvis suggests business cannot start communities – they already exist. They are doing what they want to do. The question managers should ask is: “How can we help them do it better?” The answer to that is elegant organisation, and he explains what that means.
This is an important, easy-to-read and enormously helpful book. It puts significant period and millennial change in our organisational evolution into context. It is quite the best book I have read so far this year.

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