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Leadership Strategy and Innovation

Analysis of Google’s Mission through Ashridge Model

Leadership Strategy and Innovation

End of Module Coursework Assessment

This graded assessment accounts for 90% of your final grade and comprises two separate assessment
exercises: Part A & Part B which are both weighted equally at 45% of your final grade.

You need to use this cover sheet for your assignment.

Part A

In Part A, we assess learning outcomes related to units 1, 2, 3, 7 & 10 by providing you with case study
information on the leadership and strategic development processes which operate within the innovative

context at Google.

The purpose of this brief is to provide you:


Details of the coursework assessment: background to the case and questions

Information on presentation and submission date.
Guidelines to assist you in answering the questions
The assessment marking criteria and feedback sheet for Part A.


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. To
ensure that an organization has an excellent mission statement, a mission statement analysis
framework should be used. 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) 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). 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). Therefore, it becomes complicated, as the prescriptions
offered are many and varied. Campbell and Yeung (1991) 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).
Google’s mission has achieved purpose through its existing leadership. Purpose seeks to
answer the essential question why an organization exists (Campbell & Yeung, 1991). According
to Google’s mission, the company’s purpose to take all the 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). 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) support Campbell and
Yeung’s (1991) 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.
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). 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. This strategy component of a corporate mission as
explained by Campbell and Yeung (1991) fits well into the suggestion by Levy (2012) that the
mission statement developed by an organization should be based upon its distinctive
competencies among many other elements.
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). Google has no clear business strategy
that will ensure it prospers in the competitive field. However, they 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 want to expand and grow their business but no policies have been
developed (Johnson, Whittington & Scholes, 2011). Google leaves this option to chance, as any
new idea that is created, and seems to make sense can be implemented to help it achieve its
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).

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). Unlike the previous
leader, Larry Page turned out to be a CEO who is not afraid to dream bigger.
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). 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).
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. 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. 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. 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. This often takes time for the project to be perfect and released.
As for the planned approach, Larry Page visualized the results he wanted, and then he planned

how this was going to be achieved. He provided policies to guide employees and push them to
work towards the purpose. 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. 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.


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.



Bartkus, B., Glassman, M. & McAfee, B. (2005) “Mission statement quality and financial
performance”, European Management Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 86-94.
Campbell, A. & Yeung, S. (1991) “Creating a Sense of Mission”, Long Range Planning, Vol. 24,
No. 4, pp. 10-20.
Emanoil, M., & Nicoleta, M. (2013). Defining Aspects Of Human Resource Management
Strategy Within The General Strategy Of The Modern Organization. Annals Of The
University Of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 22(1), 1526-1535.
Grant, R. (2013) Contemporary Strategy Analysis, 8th edition, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Case
Study 20 available online: Google Inc.: What’s the Corporate Strategy?

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