October 3rd, 2016

Google's Alphabet - Inspired Leadership

This month's news on Google’s move to Alphabet is an exciting one for the brand world in which I play.

It brings up many big strategic questions about brand strategy, identity, architecture, culture, language, etc. I shall leave others to comment on the merits of these important questions. What intrigues me the most is just how Google did it.

My understanding is that the decision was made by the founders of the business, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It probably didn’t involve endless meetings with management & brand consultants like myself helping to reach a conclusion. No arduous months of back and forth amongst a board of directors looking to make a decision, speaking to investors to test the waters, etc, etc, etc… The founders of the business just got on with it and made the decision – be it good, bad or ugly. Only time will tell.

There is a lot to be said for the approach that has been adopted and I’ve unfortunately been party to too many ‘decisions by committee’. In my humble experience they simply kill the energy and momentum behind making ideas happen. As a leader of a independent brand design consultancy it is good to work with many SME owners who just roll the dice and make quick decisions. As David Ogilvy, one of the advertising gurus of his day, quite rightly stated “Search all the parks in all your cities; you’ll find no statues of committees.” Decisions need to be made by one person because committees (boards, steering groups, etc.) just get in the way and stifle the process.

The best businesses I’ve witnesses in my lifetime have been led by strong leaders that just get on with it and don’t hesitate, gestate or deviate. I think of Bill Gates at Microsoft, Jack Welch at GE, Steve Jobs (now Tim Cook) at Apple and now Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Alphabet.

Look into your own business and see how decisions are made and who is making them. It says a hell of a lot about the culture of the organisation and just whether you should be there, or why you should jump ship. Strong leaders will make quick decisions and then just make things happen. They live and die (in the commercial world at least) by them every day. Larry & Sergey should be applauded for just doing it!

Richard Taylor
Managing Director