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Ex-Google CEO Reveals Tough Review Process That Employees Endured When Pitching New Ideas

Eric Schmidt may no longer be Google’s CEO but he’s got plenty to share about the firm and the experiences that so many employees were forced to live with while working in the company.

Schmidt shed light on a review process that he felt was beyond brutal for workers, restricting them from sharing their ideas for the tech giant’s new products.

The former Google CEO highlighted the problematic maneuver during a recent question and answer session for the Collision Conference in Canada. And that’s when he was asked to shed light on what he felt was the approach to predicting the future and which one he preferred.

While the interview appeared to be going smoothly, there was one question that really made the former CEO take a backseat and think. This was related to how the company allows for ideas to be lifted from the ground and how employees were allowed to present their input on such matters during his tenure as CEO.

To many people’s surprise, the answer was not quite like what we may have expected as Schmidt revealed how brutal the whole procedure was, to begin with.

Google was known for its popular offering of giving employees the chance of gaining side projects. This was a part that they could take on as a benefit and hence was referred to as the ‘20% Project’. With time, so many of those ideas brought forward fruitful benefits and that’s why we’ve got the likes of Gmail, Google News, and even AdSense too.

While answering the question, Schmidt shared with the audience which approach he took during his time working with his co-founders. While in public, he continued to speak about taking a bottom-up approach while managing projects like those.

This means there was more collaboration in terms of deciding which steps needed to be taken and how innovation would be welcomed. But at the end of the day, team leaders were forced to engage more than anticipated.

He continued to speak on how it was never a team decision that allowed a certain idea to be approved. Instead, ideas would have to pass through the most stringent processes from a management point of view.

20% of the time is when the teams would end up assembling and people would follow their true passions. Some of these individuals would have the greatest headstart while a lot of the time, they’d need to bypass the strong and brutal reviews of those in charge which included Schmidt and approval from a few others.

A lot was discussed by the board in regards to these ideas. This includes if there was enough funding being done, were things going to work out, and was there a scaling procedure going to be implemented. Lastly, we needed to determine if it was legal or not.

But Schmidt says if he had it his way, the best procedure to follow would be to include both bottoms up and tops down maneuver.

After the interview was over, a number of employees did come forward and agreed with what Schmidt had to say about the way project ideas were accepted and how brutal the reviewing was. This was something that they’d spoken about in the past too.

Way back in the year 2010, one employee went as far as mentioning how so many projects were deemed to be ineffective, thanks to the brutal levels of review and the incredibly large numbers of approval needed for a launch to occur.

It’s no wonder why the project had been launched in the year 2004, much before it went public. And then later on in 2013, it had been discontinued.


Photo: Collision 2022: Day Two / YT. H/T: SEJ

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