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0 Introduction

It has been the norm for decades that organizational strategic plans have been created by
upper levels of management. Annually, the best and brightest division heads come together to
brainstorm the company's strategic challenges and solutions, articulate the vision for strategic
growth, and formulate the plan for optimizing organizational resources. Yet with all the time and
money spent on strategic planning, often there is a lag in putting the plans into action, or the
execution fails to achieve the desired results. All managers know that execution is critical to the
success of the strategic plan, but making the plan work is an even bigger challenge than creating
the plan, in large part because execution requires a disciplined process or a logical set of
connected activities that enables the organization to successfully integrate the strategies into the
operation. Many factors inhibit the successful execution of the strategic plan, and all of them are
tied to the people of the organization.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) in 2010, showed that the obstacles to executing
strategy in the current economy included being too busy/lack of time and resource constraints,
while the obstacles to executing strategy in general were making it meaningful to front-line
employees, translating strategy to execution and aligning jobs to strategy. As for the most
important aspect of strategy execution, clear communication was rated highest by most
respondents (72 percent). One respondent said, "Failure to communicate strategy causes frontline workers to invent their own strategy." Other high priorities identified were effective
leadership and a commitment to putting the right people in the right jobs. One of the biggest

too had a garage startup.” The search engines available at that time were not very efficient in quickly finding the most relevant results for the user. Carl Victor Page. Both Page and Brin were researchers at heart (though neither of them completed their PhD). Fortune magazine ranked it as the best place to work in the U. was a computer science professor at Michigan State University. with a large number of web-based products in its portfolio and generates about 97 percent of its revenue through online advertisements (Google Adwords and Adsense). Dr.S. which is indeed a tribute to the company’s leadership and people-management practices.roadblocks to successful strategy execution.’ In 2009. This . as stated by the respondents. Google Inc. The Google brand is valued at USD 100 billion. making it the world’s first ‘one-hundred billion brand." 2. When Larry Page and Sergey Brin met in the Stanford PhD program in computer science. they developed the idea of a search engine company. Their venture was a rather ‘unanticipated’ outcome of their research project on “The Anatomy of a Large-scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. Brin was Russia-born and emigrated to the U. They decided to drop out of the PhD program and to launch the new company from a friend’s garage. was "encouraging managers to make decisions in line with the strategy.. Brin’s father and paternal grandfather were both mathematicians. and his mother was a research scientist with NASA. Like many other well-known companies. which they did in 1998. when he was six years old.S.0 Background of Google Google now provides free net-search services in more than 120 languages. Both Page and Brin have academic ancestries: Page’s father.

Google has . and possibly make as much money. 3. storing the indices efficiently. expanding its reach through its AdSense contextual ad network makes sense.0 Strategy Execution – Google Boiling Google’s strategy down to just one thing is impossible. they developed the PageRank technology (now proprietary to Google). and handling many queries quickly. so it needs more and more places to show its ads to increase its revenue. because even if Google ultimately can’t go where it wants.issue was becoming increasingly complex. In doing so. So. but Internet marketers (and search marketers in particular) ought to be thinking about where Google wants to take the industry. the industry will be changed regardless. Both of these moves allow Google to place ads on Web properties it does not own. what is behind all the actions we’ve seen Google take over the years? Some of the motivations are simple. but where others might go also. Watching Google helps us understand not only where Google is going. So. keeping the crawled information up to date. Hence. with the explosive growth of the materials on the web. In the process. Their confidence in their invention was so high that when selecting a name for their company they picked up a modification of a mathematical term (GOOGOL. Google’s revenue is based on advertising. which is the name of the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeroes). they indirectly conveyed the company’s unique vision to organize and procure ‘infinitely’ large amounts of information for users. the duo took up the challenge of designing an efficient system for crawling information from the web. Similarly. which ranks the quality of each web page using a complex calculation of link structure based on the linkages among web pages. So does its acquisition of DoubleClick.

Google not only maximized its income. It’s reasonable to think that the gradual increase in clicks on paid search ads is partially caused by the fact that they are more relevant than they once were. Google knows that the reason that its ads have commanded premium prices (versus banner ads) is because Google ads have the customer’s attention. such as Gmail. but Google’s contribution to advertising relevance is the hybrid paid search ranking scheme—they were the first to rank search ads based on the combination of bid price and clickthrough rate. but also increased the relevance of those paid search ads. The act of searching itself is based on relevance. Showing a display ad does not ensure true customer attention. By adding clickthrough rate to the previous high-bidder approach. Google already commands attention with its search ads. Google has a history of selling advertising that is the most relevant—it’s relevancy is driven by the attention people pay to it. Google’s strategy is to broaden this kind of relevancy beyond search. and searchers have learned trust them more. But Google’s strategy is far richer than merely adding new venues for the same kind of ads it shows on search results pages. it’s Google’s history. So. Google wants plain old banner ads to command the same level of attention that paid search ads do. they are interested in the ads. and seeks to create similar relevance with other forms of advertising. such as Blogger and YouTube. True attention is a function of relevance. And the key to that . Google has also pioneered new offerings that attract audiences for its ads. attention is more than real estate.been consistently acquiring properties that serve as venues for its ads. But that’s not Google’s strategy. Google understands that the attention paid to a message is a critical part of why it has high value to an advertiser. while Web surfers might not be. When someone is searching for something.

Some people see some sinister “Big Brother” aspect to this. Google Website Optimizer knows which variations of your marketing message work best. Google seemed less capable than Yahoo! and Microsoft to bring about personalization. (Even ISPs are looking at behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting and retargeting brings personalization to banner ads. If you look at what Google has done over the years. The Google toolbar can report search terms and Web sites visited. It’s remarkable how much ground Google has covered since. Google might even bid on mobile phone spectrum. Gmail knows what your customers say. . And it will only escalate—a few small changes to results here and there will lead to more and more personalized results over time. which might allow it to know people’s whereabouts and even more of their behavior. That’s why you’re seeing Google and the other search engines beginning to personalize search results. It’s hard to remember how. so that today it appears to know more about searchers and surfers than anyone. Search engineers have spent the last 40 years working on the content. but I think it’s just the natural evolution of relevance. Those companies had portals that promised to detect far more information than Google’s simple (and anonymous) search interface. Google Analytics reports all activity on a Web site. And it’s all tied together with your Google Account. That’s Google’s strategy. But that’s not all. but now it’s time to focus on the searcher. Geotargeting identifies where they are. just a few years ago. it all ads up to finding out more about everyone.kind of relevance is personalization. Google Checkout knows what gets bought. even in private.) And Google is well-positioned to mine personal information. given how well it has executed its strategy.

you’ll be more prepared for whatever does come along. because it helps us understand the forces at work in Internet marketing. 4. Page and Brin decided to bring in venture capitalists. recalls Larry Page. It’s always dangerous to attempt to summarize a company’s whole strategy in a short blog post—Google’s strategy is far more diffuse and nuanced than this. By 2000. the company had started making a profit.0 Leadership at Google Leadership’s policy of empowering and facilitating employees’ work has led to a large number of innovations and. . Google is well aware of this danger. Google had relied primarily on the personal funds of the founders. consequently. so it remains to be seen if they can evade it. As a startup. If you pay attention to these broad themes as you do think through your marketing strategy. They also started to allow unobtrusive text advertisements alongside search results. Finally. but it is certain to affect what others do and what eventually does happen in Internet marketing. providing free software might not be enough to persuade people to part with their privacy. even at the risk of oversimplifying. to the explosive growth of the company. Even the work underway is slow because searchers don’t understand the benefits of personalized search. But it helps us to try to simplify things to their essence.The most likely problem Google will have to face down is a backlash based on privacy concerns. As the public becomes savvier about privacy with each passing year. “We had to use all of our credit cards and our friends’ credit cards and our parents’ credit cards”.Understand that what Google wants to do might not happen.

86 billion. with the responsibility for providing the organizational and operational expertise and company leadership. They also adopted an innovative method for fixing the price of the IPO. the salaries of the top three executives were US$250. By the year 2001. Eric Schmidt. with a view to boosting investor confidence in the company. in which the market determined the initial stock price. Brin’s 31. Thus.000 each for Page and Brin. Google had grown to more than 200 employees. and it had widened its board to include representatives of the venture capitalists. with Larry Page as the CEO. Page and Brin continued to provide the engineering.45 million shares of Google are now worth about US$4. technological. just before the IPO in 2004. the major source of the company’s revenues. acknowledged as the company’s thought leader. they used a Dutch auction.6 million shares and Page’s 32 million shares are each worth more than US$12 billion.The founders managed the company until 2001. and that helped prevent insiders and institutions from selling immediately for a quick profit. Between 2001 and 2004. with the responsibility for advertisements. the trio asked the board to cut their salaries to US$1. Schmidt’s 12. and product development leadership – Page as President of Products. and Brin as President of Technology. the foundation of the leadership triumvirate at Google was laid in the year 2001. Considering the strong performance of the . as the CEO. This was indeed a smart move whereby the leaders could convey to potential investors the immense confidence they had in their company’s performance and tell them that they were willing to link their own remuneration to the market performance of their company. They brought in a professional manager.000 per annum for Schmidt. and US$150. Similarly. Their confidence in their own company and the market was not misplaced. However.

go-getter style of individualoriented leadership. Schmidt’s staunchest critic was another venture capitalist member of the board. who brought in Silicon Valley’s best-known management coach. a takecharge leader like Paul Otellini of Intel. While the founders themselves shared some of the apprehension. but had performed poorly in his one stint as CEO at Novell. or John Chambers of Cisco. He felt that Schmidt lacked the toughness required for pushing ahead with the revenue plan based on the advertising formula being experimented with during 2001-02. All three declined. a great speaker or salesman. In any case. Googled. Moritz and himself.company following the IPO. His past performances gave out mixed messages. it was perhaps possible that the patient. . Eric Schmidt was primarily the choice of venture capitalist and Google board member John Doerr. at least initially. Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital. to mentor and coach the triumvirate and mediate between the new CEO and the founders as well as the two VCs. the board in 2006 offered to raise the salaries of the top trio from the nominal amount of US$1. unobtrusive engineering management style of the mildmannered Eric Schmidt was better than the more aggressive. Bill Campbell. Carol Bartz of Autodesk. there was worry that the Mercedes he drove and the suit and tie he wore would not go down well with Google’s informal culture. However. which was why others viewed him apprehensively. But for a company like Google. which took pride in its “distributed leadership” culture. nobody thought that he was an inspirational leader. it took some time and another intervention by John Doerr. He had been a successful chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems in its glory days. Besides. As pointed out by Ken Auletta in his book.

venture-capitalist critic on the board. as Larry Page once again assumed the post of CEO. Schmidt’s leadership practices could be summarized in the following five precepts: 1. Michael Moritz. Get to know your employees: Schmidt used to make a list of his best employees. and the CEO of several Silicon Valley companies. including Intuit.Campbell. Analysts are of the view that. his leadership style had many things in common with the culture already created and put in place by the founders of Google. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the mentoring and mediation by Bill Campbell have made a major contribution to the development of Eric Schmidt into a ‘Superman CEO’ who could win over not only the founders but also the ever-skeptical. such as financial incentives. The company reached $1 billion in revenue in six years. Schmidt was elected chairman of the board while simultaneously holding the position of CEO. there were a few systems already in place. was probably the right person to mediate between the founders. and interact with them personally to encourage them to implement their innovative ideas and to insulate them from unwanted interferences by others. and the new CEO. Google’s results speak for its performance. 10 years faster than Microsoft. He had once been Columbia University’s head football coach. In April 2007. Schmidt became the Executive Chairman. then 61. . Campbell’s prior work experience also added credibility to his new role. then in their twenties. a senior executive at Apple. who was 20 years older than they were. though Eric Schmidt came from a corporate background. 2. In 2011. His major contribution was to take emotion out of the decisions and help the principal decision-makers evaluate the options in an objective manner. Create new ways to reward and promote your high-performing employees: For rewarding high performers. as identified by multiple levels of peer-references.

. compared to a statement of company targets like increasing turnover by 200 percent. Schmidt made it a point to identify reviewers from among professionals whom the concerned employee respects for their objectivity and impartiality. Let your employees own the problems you want them to solve: In order to make the employees the owners of their work. care was taken to highlight the benefits to the customers and society at large rather than to the company. 3. and so on. Schmidt has defined Google’s goal as: “Organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.0 Conclusion As a conclusion. For example.stock option plans. 4. Schmidt reinforced the existing system of allowing employees a certain degree of freedom to create their own projects and choose their own teams. Schmidt used to provide a very broad definition of the company goal and leave the implementation entirely to the employees. dinner with the CEO. In addition. Schmidt created a fivehour long video called The Factory Tour. where the protagonists themselves would explain the idea and its working. Have your employees’ performance reviewed by someone they respect for their objectivity and impartiality: In reviewing employees’ performance.” This is something that every employee can easily relate to. Allow employees to function outside the company hierarchy: As corporate hierarchies can often obstruct employees’ work. In defining the goal. effective leadership and a commitment to putting the right people in the right jobs play a major role in successful strategy execution. 5. 5.