Don’t be evil

From Wikipedia….”Don’t be evil” is the informal corporate motto (or slogan) of Google,[1] originally suggested by Google employees Paul Buchheit[2] and Amit Patel[3] at a meeting. Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said he “wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out,” adding that the slogan was “also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent.” While the official corporate philosophy of Google[4] does not contain the words “Don’t be evil”, they were included in the prospectus (aka “S-1”) of Google’s 2004 IPO (a letter from Google’s founders, later called the “‘Don’t Be Evil’ manifesto”): “Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.”[5] The sixth point of the 10-point corporate philosophy of Google says “You can make money without doing evil.”[4] The motto is sometimes incorrectly stated as Do no evil.[6][7] “Don’t be evil” is said to recognize that large corporations often maximize short-term profits with actions that may not be in the best interests of the public. Supposedly, by instilling a Don’t Be Evil culture, the corporation establishes a baseline for honest decision-making that disassociates Google from any and all cheating. This in turn can enhance the trust and image of the corporation that outweighs short-term gains from violating the Don’t Be Evil principles.”

When I first heard this I was far from Territorial Headquarters, far from the “Center of the Universe” (which is a phrase used to describe, in a rather sarcastic manner, the perceived…or real….attitude of people and organizations located in Toronto.  When we got our appointments to Toronto it was an employee of THQ who tongue in cheek welcomed me to “the tower of power”.

So after 6 months I think I can comment on life at 2 Overlea Blvd.  First let me say – this really is a great group of people, and they are working hard to serve the front lines.  The great mistake of those outside these walls is to personalize organizational decisions which are made to serve the larger good – or that are made to  acknowledge what can be unknown (and hard) facts.  Herein lies the tension – between those who are working to serve the health of the organization and those who deal with the local context.

Viewing one side of the fence from the other is always a dangerous position.  Especially when it’s done with sarcasm or worse, suspicion.

No, life here is very much one of serving officers and employees who we know are working hard.  The challenge for us here is that our view can become quickly a “boardroom view” and we too can forget there are realities outside of Toronto, Ontario or the south that are unknown to us.  Decisions made with good intent do not erase their potential impact on those who have to live with the consequences.  To be clear I’m quite convinced that the accusation of cheating isn’t one we are guilty of at all – in fact I’m very pleased at how much prayer goes into the daily life of THQ!  Yeah that’s right – we’re into prayer here!

Google’s iconic phrase could certainly apply to any organization that wants to remain customer aware and current with the needs of the people we serve.

What do you think?  Do we tend to call institutions “evil” too quickly?  Did you know prayer was an integral part of THQ’s life?

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