Just how innovative is Google?

Last month, Google was hailed as the third most innovative business in the world by US magazine Fast Company. But its size and structure can mean that creativity is stifled and employees become bored, according to a former Google executive, who does not want to be named.

When I joined Google several years ago, the company was like a start-up, with only a small number of people in the European office I worked in. It changed a lot over that time, going from a small structure to a really big multinational.

There were a lot of internal processes, bureaucracy and compliance. Conversely, they created programmes to ease internal mobility, so it was easier to change roles or locations. I am very grateful for having had the chance to work there.

I don’t think that big companies can embed a culture of entrepreneurialism because it is inevitable for any big company to have processes. You can improve that a little by changing certain aspects, but the main structure is not going to change.

If a big company has a decentralised structure, then everything can go faster. If your manager in London can take a decision even though the company is Indian, then yes it can learn from how a small company works. If a decision has to go to the headquarters, it is different. At Google, all main decisions are taken in California by the management. If it broke down its businesses and created separate units it could potentially [work more quickly].

In the few months before I left Google, the top management changed the company structure so that it felt more like a start-up. They organised the structure by product. Maybe they felt like they were working at a start-up, but I didn’t notice any change.

Employees feel happy and satisfied when they are given the autonomy to make decisions. I now work for a small but very international company. There are few processes and a lot of flexibility, which means that I can take decisions. You feel bored, empty and without passion – even if you have a high salary – when you just execute processes that have been developed by others.

Latest from Marketing Week

Influencers, consultancies and the recruitment crisis: The key topics of conversation at Cannes Lions

cannes lions

Cannes Lions 2018: Marketers turned out in force to advertising’s biggest annual event. But away from the usual talk of purpose and creativity, some big issues such as the recruitment crisis, how advertising responds to the #MeToo movement and cleaning up the influencer marketing space were discussed.


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here