Super-consultant Gary Hamel apparently wants to do some arm-waving work over at Google. The former Enron booster has a deliriously silly and fawning Google editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal.
While he starts by doing some perfunctory bowing in the general direction of “all good things don’t last”, he then spirals out of control, explaining how wondrous Google is, especially its “evolutionary” approach to management.
For example, Hamel praises Google’s “expansive sense of purpose”, which cynics would call Teen Beat scatteredness. (“Yeah! And then we’ll do this! And then this! And then …. yeah!”) He is also naively fond of Google’s flat structure, which has its charms, but which can also apparently veer toward feeling like a capricious Sergey and Larry Show.
Hamel continues, parroting the usual line about Google engineers having 20% of their time for their favorite personal projects, versus other companies’ “rigidities that perpetuate historical patterns of resource allocation” (yeesh!). Yes, it’s a fine policy, but let’s be historically accurate: Or did all those skunkworks in other companies really did have to do with skunks, not side projects?
Finally, Hamel rains praise on Google’s recruitment process, which he says filters out bozos. Sure, it knocks out those people, but it also eliminates lots of normal candidates who have no interest in being dicked around for six months by IQ size queens at Google.
Yes, Google is a fine company, and has been a wondrous investment. But no company merits all of Hamel’s paeans here, and what Hamel has done, en passant, is make the eventual bear case for Google. This one’s a keeper — for reasons Hamel never intended.