Here is a quick review of Laszlo Bock's Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead.
The original draft was posted on my Goodreads feed.
Cheesy as hell. Very annoying to read. Packed full of insight.
The book came highly recommended. After the first two chapters, I was furious and the recommenders were losing credibility by the line.
The stuff was full of platitudes, absolutely bereft of interesting points and read like a parody of how someone from Google would write for a laymen audience.
Skip to Chapter 4
From Chapter 4 on, things kick into gear. All the annoying stuff is still there - twee Google-insider jargon, really annoying footnotes about anything remotely controversial and tiresome set pieces of corporate wackiness.
Yet, there is great advice on recruitment, performance management, knowledge sharing, training and business intelligence. Towards the end of the book, as the topics become a bit more generic, the book tails off again.
While everything revolves around Google, there is always a good link back to how could similar approach work in non-Google context.
Eggers was right
As a disclaimer - I never craved to work for Google, though I did apply once on an off-chance. Needless to say, it went nowhere fast. While I'd like to believe that this time around I'd have more to offer, I definitely don't wish reapply do so now that I have read the book.
For me, the book reinforces my suspicion that Eggers' "The Circle" is absolutely about Google and that there is not all that much fictional in the book.
In a wonderfully ironic twist, Bock confirms to have read the book, but denies all links between the two.
View from Mountain View
Which brings me to the final point in the book - it is blinkered as hell.
Yes, it is full of interesting stuff, but it is also a 360-page treatise on HR from a company implicated in wage-fixing scandal. Furthermore, for a data-driven narrative there was suspiciously few convincing proof points around power law distribution of worker productivity and compensation.
As annoying I found these to be, in the end I figured they are a stamp of authenticity. Of course, a senior officer of Google would say so. It would be strange if it were otherwise.
Antidote to "Rye & Iron" school of startup management
All in all "Work Rules!" is complex, annoying and extremely useful. Just as the recommender had it - "Not perfect for your context, but def thought-provoking".
Particularly for those working in startups outside SV where points discussed are still absolutely a novelty.
If I were a VC in Berlin, I would give out the copy of this book to every founding team I've invested in. It is the perfect antidote to robust top-down approach to management often survives, if not thrives, in Berlin.
TL;DR - Emphatic "Go Read"!