Maybe you've heard about the employee meeting that Google executives held right after Trump was elected, a meeting where they expressed their political views about Trump and his supporters. The meeting was surreptitiously video-recorded and can be found on the Web.
To save you the trouble of watching the long video, I've excerpted below the key points made by the executives.
When reading the following, imagine the executives being widely diverse in appearance and dress. Picture one of them wearing a dark suit, white shirt and tie, like a Wall Street investment banker; picture another looking like a Marine, with a buzz-cut and a lapel pin of an American flag; picture another looking like a working stiff from Akron, Ohio, dressed in shiny polyester clothes bought at Walmart; and picture only one of them looking like a stereotypical software hipster dude, with the requisite wooly hair and faded but expensive jeans and T-shirt.
Today we want to talk about group-think, which is a danger to not only the company but the nation and world.
We fear that Google is developing a worldview—a uniformity and conformity in viewpoints, values, beliefs, and politics. It's gotten so bad that, unlike just about every other major corporation, Googlers talk openly about their political views—which happen to be virtually identical. As such, it's no secret that most Googlers are distraught that Trump was elected instead of Hillary.
Please imagine for a moment how insensitive this is to libertarians and independents, who, whether right or wrong, think that both Hillary and Donald, and both Democrats and Republicans, are power-hungry control freaks who will say and do anything to appeal to their respective voters.
This minority doesn't want to hear your political views, just as you don't want to hear theirs. Googlers shouldn't feel uncomfortable at work, especially if they are in the minority.
To make it worse, those of you in the majority not only express your political views at work but are wickedly sanctimonious and pious about it. It's as if eating organic kale and free-range chicken in the company's dining facilities results in your s**t not stinking.
Maybe the root problem is that we are headquartered in California, where "The Land of Group-Think" should be emblazoned on license plates. For this reason, we are announcing today that we are moving the company's headquarters to Akron, Ohio, where, no doubt, we'll get a different view of the world.
Human Resources will be handing out cardboard moving boxes in the lobby. Thank you for coming to the meeting. See you in Ohio.
Of course, the executive comments at the employee meeting were the opposite of those in the foregoing satire. And of course, none of the executives looked like a banker, a Marine, or a working stiff from Akron. They all had the trademark Silicon Valley demeanor and dress, which is as easy for an observer to spot in a crowd as it is for a hawk to spot a mouse from 500 feet. It's as much of a uniform as the itchy suits and clickety-clack wingtip shoes with taps on the soles that I had to wear at the start of my business career. That uniform was different from the Google uniform, but just as with Google, it was the product of conformity and group-think.
Later, as an executive, and still later as an organizational consultant, I had some success in stopping corporate conformity and group-think, because they are the kiss of death of not only companies but also nonprofits, universities, and governments. One time, I convinced a company to remove the pictures of past CEOs that were arranged in a long row in the lobby, for they all looked the same: stodgy, old-fashioned, WASP-looking, and stuck in the past. The symbolism was awful.
Googlers are not only conformists and group-thinkers, but, even worse, they are so goddamn full of themselves—so arrogant, smug, and self-righteous. They see themselves as hip, wise, diverse, and openminded, but are actually the opposite. They've even chugged the corporate Kool-Aid that Google is saving the world, although it is essentially an advertising platform.
This is not to suggest that everything said at the employee meeting in question was without merit. I agreed with some of it, just as I agree with some of what Trump says and does, although I detest him and didn't vote for him—just as I detest Hillary and didn't vote for her.
In other words, not being an ideologue and an obedient cadre, I don't have what it takes be hired by Google. Thank goodness