Lessons from Google and beyond in the field in Strategy and Operation

Google is renowned as one of the world’s most valuable and innovative brands. Fortune has also listed the company as the top employer to work for over the past six years. Our students that have chosen to accelerate their degree and study over the summer months were treated today to an engaging and insightful workshop run by Christian Polman, who has worked at both Bain & Company and Google.

Christian began the session by getting to know our students and delving deeper into their future aspirations before giving them an insight into his own personal journey.

Having studied a City Planning degree in Cornell, Christian made a move to the vibrant city of Boston where his love for digital analytics and a passion for business grew. His next stop was London and New York City, with a job at Bain & Company, then EdTech start-up Decoded and most recently, Google. Christian shared his hopes to explore his entrepreneurial side, an area which sparked a lot of interest with our budding entrepreneurs.

Let’s talk Google Innovation

Founded 16 years ago, Google played an important role for many entrepreneurs. “Google allows entrepreneurs to reach large audiences very efficiently. For example, relevance scores in Google’s search advertising algorithms allows many advertisers to reach customers in a cost effective way. This is how Google position themselves and their aim is to help businesses grow” explains Christian. As we all know, technology is constantly advancing and having a huge impact on businesses. The one big principle that drives Google’s ethos is “the world is changing, FAST!”

During the workshop, the students explored the key three themes that are causing this rapid change:

Information, media and people are going online

Fundamentally, the internet has grown an interconnected system to share information and to demonstrate this in its truest form, Christian shared some thought provoking statistics with the class:

Did you know?      

  • 65.7 years’ worth of videos are uploaded to YouTube per day (that’s roughly 400 hours per minute)
  • By 2020, 70% of all media will be online       
  • If you took all the information stored in America’s largest library (The Library
    of Congress) and loaded them onto DVDs, the stack will be one story high
  • The amount of digital information produced every day alone would stack to the moon and back on DVDS

Mobile allows anyone to reach anyone else anywhere, anytime

Google is putting mobile first. A survey showed that 87% of people agreed that their smartphone never leaves their side, whether it be night or day. Perhaps not the healthiest habit, but on point considering the news today that ‘three quarters of young Brits would rather text on the beach than read a book’!

Cloud computing puts supercomputers in your pocket

“This is a big driver for start-ups” Let’s take Uber as an example, where millions of transactions all over the world are processed every day. Christian explains that “cloud computing helps to handle all these transactions. Google also offers a massive digital infrastructure that can help process this data”.

These three themes are important and Google strive to adapt to them as they have to cope with the new paradigm by “creating an engine for change and innovation”. One of the main ways Google does this is by having an incredible focus on both culture and small teams. Christian emphasised the importance of team work and how collaboration of each other’s skills and knowledge can equate to more interesting and solid ideas for the organisation.

Strategy and operations go hand-in-hand

The workshop came to a close with a discussion about the importance of both strategy and operations. Christian began by explaining how strategy has to be the foundation of a business and how strategy dictates how operations work within a business. However, the students were made aware not to forget the most critical ingredient; people. “The role of people within an organisation link closely with strategy and operations therefore having the right leadership team and frequently reviewing your organisational structure at its core is essential”.

Finally, the students were reminded of one of the key frameworks used in many a lesson here at Pearson College London; the BCG matrix. With reference to the changes mentioned before, Christian explained how because of these changes, they are becoming more and more complex. To put this into more perspective, in 1950, most businesses had 4-7 performance imperatives to be focused on in order to be successful. Currently this figure has increased to between 25 and 40. Christian introduced the students to Yves Morieux’s ‘Six Simple Rules for Smart Simplicity’, you can learn more from his Ted Talk. An important fact that students took away is that the business management principles most often used. Hard and soft approaches to business management often end up creating more complexity, so new ways of thinking about structure, communication, incentives and power dynamics are required.

A really big thank you to Christian for coming in to speak to our students! The students gained a breadth of new knowledge that was not only relevant to their course but extremely relevant to changes that are happening around them right now.

Interested in studying Business from the inside? Take a look at the courses available in our Business School for September 2016 entry.

Looking to study from this September?  Take a look at our Business courses in clearing 2015.