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Analysis of Google’s Mission through Ashridge Model

Analysis of Google’s Mission through Ashridge Model


The presence of corporate mission is one of the enduring set of principles that are
fundamental in offering direction for strategic decision making in many organizations today.
This is because it purpose of the organization, and then proposes the actions which need to be

taken by the organization members for the purpose to be fully achieved. Unfortunately, some
organizations rare understand why it is so important to have a mission; some usually just create a
statement simply because it is something which organizations do. However, to ensure that an
organization has an excellent mission statement, a mission statement analysis framework should
be used. A mission statement analysis framework shows a generalized view of what the
organization’s mission statement should be composed of, for it to be strong. This paper analyses
Google’s corporate mission by using the Ashridge Sense of Mission Model as a theoretic
framework for the task.

Analysis of Google’s Mission through Ashridge Mission Model
Campbell and Yeung (1991: 11) claim that a good number of managers do not understand
the nature and importance of having a corporate mission: a reason why others do not even
consider it. The process of creating a mission statement is not as simple as many think (Bartkus,
Glassman & McAfee 2005: 87). So far, when analyzing literature, it is noted that different
writers have emphasized different related elements with regards to the core components of
mission statements (Emanoil & Nicoleta 2013: 1527). Therefore, it becomes complicated, as the
offered are many and varied. Campbell and Yeung (1991: 11) define mission as consisting of
four elements: purpose, strategy, behavior standards, and values. When all four elements are
used together, then a strong mission statement exists since they will resonate and reinforce each
other (Campbell and Yeung, 1991: 12).
Google’s mission has achieved purpose through its existing leadership. Purpose seeks to
answer the essential question why an organization exists (Campbell & Yeung 1991: 13).

According to Google’s mission, the company’s purpose to take the entire world’s information
and make it available and useful to everyone around the globe (Grant, 2013). That is not all; the
mission also states that it seeks to improve the relationship with merchants through Google
shopping so as to encourage them to refresh their product information frequently, and in return
benefit Google’s customers (Grant, 2013). Therefore, Google falls under the category of the
second type of company, as described by Campbell and Yeung (1991: 13). It exists so as to
satisfy all its stakeholders, and not only customers or employees. Hence, Google has identified
its responsibilities to each stakeholder group. Trentin, Forza and Perin (2012: 3667) support
Campbell and Yeung’s (1991: 13) argument that a business can have more than one purpose.
These may include stockholder value, stakeholder value, and other significant issues such as
social responsibility.
From these statements, a difference can be noted between the previous leadership and the
current situation. In the previous leadership, when Eric Schmidt was CEO, Google had a mission
statement but it was never fully achieved. This is because the leader never used the mission
statement to help in the process of strategic decision making (Shivakumar 2014: 81). Instead, he
left everything to chance by giving employees the freedom to use resources to develop whatever
they liked. As a result, purpose was never met since customers were not able to get all the
information they required on the Google search. Once Larry Page came into leadership, he
started linking purpose directly to his strategic decision making. This is why Google has
managed to achieve its purpose, because the actions taken by the employees, as guided by their
leaders, are supposed to work towards ensuring the purpose is met.

For an organization to achieve purpose while competing with others, it is essential to
have strategy. Strategy is essential as it presents a commercial logic for the organization
(Campbell & Yeung 1991: 14). Strategy defines the steps, which the organization must take so as
to ensure it fully achieves its purpose. It does so by defining what business the company is
engaging in, the position in that industry that it plans to hold, and the competitive advantage that
the company has or is planning to obtain (Fernandes 2009). This strategy component of a
corporate mission as explained by Campbell and Yeung (1991: 14) fits well into the suggestion
by Levy (2012: 9) that the mission statement developed by an organization should be based upon
its distinctive competencies among many other elements. Google’s mission, as it is currently, has
been backed up by strategy. Eric Schmidt did not have any strategy for Google to be able to
achieve its purpose. He only waited for his employees to develop any form of innovation, a
factor that was somehow misleading since the employees would end up developing application
software that were not actually going to contribute to the organizations strategy. Google had no
clear business strategy that would ensure it prospers in the competitive field. However, there was
claim that their strategy is to not have a strategy at all. Therefore, instead of planning on what
they actually plan to do, Google’s strategy is that they wanted to expand and grow their business
but no policies have been developed (Johnson, Whittington & Scholes 2011: 426). Google left
this option to chance, as any new idea that was created, and seemed to make sense could be
implemented to help it achieve its purpose.
The leadership of Larry Page was, however, different. He knew that for the company to
achieve its purpose there needed to be a relevant strategy to ensure this happened. Therefore, he
developed policies for his employees, and would use his vision to try and create strategy for the
development of various software that would contribute to the achievement of the company

purpose (Robert Mitchell, Shepherd & Sharfman 2011: 690). Hence, during his leadership,
employees were guided on what to do. Larry Page made use of the availability of technology to
help in the process of inventing new things that would directly contribute to the organization
purpose. Purpose and strategy are merely thoughts, at least until they can be converted into
action, by using them to create policy and behavior guidelines that are supposed to help
managers decide on their daily activities (Campbell & Yeung 1991: 15). Aside from this, Larry
Page has also adopted another strategy by ensuring that it not only focuses on information, but
also on the growth of the company as a whole. He realized that some information cannot be
converted into text, and that not all people have an easy access to computers and internet. This is
why he pushed until the company acquired Youtube and Android to cater for the above needs
respectively. Thus, when information is in the form of a video, a customer can access it through
Behavioral Standards
The current leader of Google has helped it to develop and grow by making use of policies
that are also supposed to guide the behavioral standards of employees. Employee behavior
greatly affects performance as it determines the kind of effort that will be applied. Larry Page
contributed to most of the policies of Google, ensuring that they were formulated in such a way
that would promote employee productivity. The policies stated how the employees were
expected to conduct themselves at workplace, and while working on a project (Campbell &
Yeung 1991: 16). One behavioral standard of employees while working on a task is that they
always have to work in teams. When an individual works on a project on his own, it is not
expected to prosper. This is an example that proves that the current behavioral standards of
Google are high. They are expected to behave in certain ways that will ensure the purpose of the

organization is met. Some behaviors are also prohibited as they may encourage conflict and
hinder good employee performance while handling tasks.
Value refers to the beliefs and moral strategies that lie behind the business culture. They
enhance a company’s mission by giving meaning to the norms and behavior standards in a
company. Google has value incorporated in its mission. This is seen by how they ensure to
provide the best and most relevant search results, and not accept any form of payment for the
ranking of websites (Grant, 2013). Without value, Google would be useless since customers
would be provided with information that may not be of quality, simply because Google was paid
to do so. This would not help the company in the achievement of its purpose since it would mean
not providing customers with the best and most relevant search results. Fortunately, as a result of
Google’s value, any website seeking to be made available to customers must always work hard
to improve its content, as that is the only way to appear at the top.
Google’s Approach to Decision Making

The famous interview of Google’s executive chair Eric Schmidt showed an area where he
states, “We don’t really have a five year plan.” Google’s leadership in 2010 and 2012 showcases
a great difference in how things were done so as to achieve the organizational purpose. The
changes in leadership, which took place in 2011 as Larry Page replaced Eric Schmidt as the CEO
also carried with it great changes (Johnson, Whittington & Scholes 2011: 427). Unlike the
previous leader, Larry Page turned out to be a CEO who is not afraid to dream bigger. As Eric
Schmidt was still CEO, Google made little slow progresses, and the company never achieved its
full potential. This is because the employees lacked direction, and they were not pushed to work
at their full capacity, a factor that would be good for the organizations performance. Fortunately,

Larry Page saw a vision and he made sure the employees worked at their full potential to make it
come to reality.
Eric Schmidt’s leadership had no strategy for growth, instead his main aim was for the
company to hire smart engineers, and offer them equipment so they could do what they do best
(Johnson, Whittington & Scholes 2011: 427). There were no policies to guide them as the
employees were given a free choice of deciding on what they wanted to work on, and they were
also encouraged to use up 20% of their time to create new ideas. Unfortunately, such a strategy is
usually more effective when working with few employees (Emanoil & Nicoleta 2013: 1529). He
did not have vision, nor did he have a plan for where he expected the organization to be in five
years. This is a sign that the organization lacked direction, as the employees were basically
spending time trying to create something attractive for the organization.
What Eric Schmidt did not realize during the time when he was CEO is that this strategy
was supposed to be changed once the number of employees increased. This is because when all
the big number of employees is focused on developing things they want, the company lacks
innovation. Innovation is usually achieved when a leader notices great potential in a product, and
thus pushes employees to make it even better. What they need is to have a leader who will
identify a product with great potential and thereafter develop a strategy that will see to it that a
more ambitious product is produced, instead of settling for mediocre (Kandemir & Acur 2012:
618). Eric Schmidt never pushed employees to work on innovation of their products further,
instead, once the product was done it would be fine just the way it was. Larry Page, on the other
hand, focused on ensuring that employees made good use of their potential. No form of guidance
was offered for employees while Eric Schmidt was leader; he assumed they knew what to do as
they were engineers. On the contrary, Larry Page ensured that he provided guidance for

employees in the form of company policies. Thus, they knew exactly what was expected of them.
Therefore, Eric Schmidt was a leader content with how things were, however Larry Page always
saw an opportunity for bigger things, and he also knew how to make it happen.
These two leaders had different approaches to decision making; Eric Schmidt used the
incremental approach, while Larry Page used the planned approach (Lin & Liu 2012: 199). This
is noted by how Schmidt only waited for something good to be developed by employees so he
could make small incremental changes to a project (Poblador 2014: 138). This often takes time
for the project to be perfect and released. He never pushed employees as there was no timeframe
given for the production of a new product. Employees would take as much time as they needed.
As for the planned approach, Larry Page visualized the results he wanted, and then he planned
how this was going to be achieved. His planning was strategic as he had to really think and
decide on the actions that would ensure his vision was achieved. This included offering time
frames for the completion of tasks assigned. He provided policies to guide employees and push
them to work towards the purpose (Todorović, Mitrović & Bjelica 2013: 44). This approach is
more advantageous as it saves time and motivates employees to yield results, as compared to
when they are not given any direction (Kownatzki, Walter, Floyd & Lechner 2013: 1300). This is
so because employees know what is expected of them from the organization, and they are also
provided with direction. This decision making approach used by Larry Page is transferable to
organizations in other contexts as a leader does not need anything to visualize a purpose for the
organization. Once there is a vision, the leader can now develop a strategy to ensure that the
purpose is fully achieved. Strategic decision making simply involves making decisions that will
ensure the organization goals are met. This is achieved by closely comparing the organization
purpose with the possible actions to take.



It is important for leaders to develop a mission that will bring about important changes to
the organization. Google’s current mission statement has achieved the sense of mission as
indicated in the Ashridge Model, although it is important to have some of those features
frequently analyzed. From the two case studies, it is clear that different leadership approaches to
decision making impact organization performance differently. One approach may be effective for
an organization, but it may not be transferable to the other. Hence, the type of approach used
depends on the organization and what it deals with.


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