GOOG VP of Engineering has an FYI to IT Mouth Breathers

by Johnny Debacle

Following on the report from two weeks ago, on HR vs IT, Mister Juggles uncovered some choice quotes on Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) approach to IT.

[Douglas Merrill, VP of engineering and Google’s de facto CIO] is evasive when asked what kinds of commercial PC software are used at Google. “More important than what we put on each desktop is how we think about what to put on each desktop,” he says obliquely. “Google’s philosophy is that choice is always better than control. Tightly centralized control gets in the way of innovation.”

He then takes a jab at CIOs –which he describes as a title used by “old-world companies”– at other companies. “Most people in my job try to control. ‘Here are the three things you can buy.'” Merrill explains. “I try to control as a little as I possibly can but make it easy to work within parameters that I know how to work with.”

Merrill sees a distinction between tools that tell you something and tools that stop you from doing something. For example, he observes that some financial services institutions block instant messaging because of they way they interpret regulations. “We don’t think that’s the right approach here,” he says.

The right approach, as Merrill sees it: Talk a lot; use data, not intuition; automate wherever you can.

Basically Google aligns itself to allow technology as a tool to leverage their human capital as much as possible. That is the focus. Compared to the sentiment expressed by a reader and IT professional in the comments of our previous article:

September 4th, 2006 | 5:30 am
I’m an IT guy. And no, I’m not a skinny white guy. Do what you want with your pc at home. The company dosn’t give you one for your own personal entertainment, it’s to do the job they pay you to do. Since when do you need google search to do your job? Get back to work.

It’s a constant battle to keep the donkeys (otherwise known as users) from screwing up their computers. Just because you possibly haven’t screwed yours up yet is more due to luck than anything else.

The commenter sees his job in IT as being a virtual prison warden, keeping everything orderly and not letting anything get out of hand.

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