Google founder Larry Page will reclaim his role as CEO on April 4th. Page wants to cut through the bureaucracy that has developed as Google has grown to 24,000 employees. Some steps taken by Page according to a Wall Street Journal article include:
- Persuading top executives to sit and work together every day in a public area of the company’s headquarters so employees can directly approach them on matters;
- Recently mandated a “bullpen” session every afternoon, in which he and the company’s executive officers sit and work on small couches outside a board room at Google’s headquarters.
- Has met with managers of Google divisions and asked what steps could be taken to move more quickly and improve performance, and to identify the barriers that prevent innovation.
Jack Welch as the head of General Electric (GE) was also fixated on eliminating bureaucracy and engaging the ideas of employees to make GE better. Welch developed a process at GE called Work Out, where department heads were required to meet with and hear ideas from employees.
Michael Bloomberg as Mayor of New York City, also understands the importance of face to face communication. Bloomberg works in an office set up like a “bullpen”, where he and top staff can see and communicate with each other in an open setting free of cubicle and office walls (see picture at the top of this post). Most if not all elected officials isolate their thin skinned paranoid selves away from their staff and the public, except for press conferences and ribbon cuttings. True leaders are open and not afraid to engage staff and the public about their vision for a better future.
Budget cuts are a perfect opportunity to reinvent government. I don’t see public sector leaders with the same passion for eliminating bureaucracy as private sector leaders. Front-line employees who have to suffer with bureaucratic rules and procedures have ideas on how to do things differently, but rarely do they get to speak to decision makers in government. Google, GE and Bloomberg understand the importance of being accessible and having face to face contact for new ideas to surface.
What do you think about the approach utilized by Larry Page, Jack Welch and Michael Bloomberg?