While I tend to hate ‘best practices’ listings taken out of context and applied to arts management issues, I’ll break my own rule on this one. Google can teach us all a few lessons about life in a connected world, and what brings an organization to the center of our scattered attention spans. Arts organizations should at least take note of what appear to be the engine’s elements of success:
- Clean and simple: Google focuses on its core purpose, and delivers it with absolute clarity. No news feeds, entertainment news, stock quotes, or trivia gunk cloud its home page. Just that glorious search field and a button.
- Succeeding by Helping Others Succeed: Early on, Google went out of its way to become the resource of choice for web developers by providing the easiest means to solve their nagging problems (free search functions, plug-and-play script links to major development software like weblogs).
- It’s Who You Are, and Who You Know: The Google search system is based not just on keywords, but on the number of other web links pointing to any given page. The more connections pointing to your site, the higher your ranking in the search.
- Treat Your People Right: Google is legendary for its 24-hour food service, the ability of staff to spend up to 20 percent of their work time on other projects, and its laid back atmosphere that feeds the creative soul. Some of this certainly comes from having money to throw, but much of it is a culture choice.
I’m not saying that all arts organizations should rebuild themselves to be Google. I’m just suggesting that by opening our corporate eyes to the huge range of ‘ways of being’ around us, we might find a management style more resonant with the creative work we’re doing.
Finally, I can’t let a Google weblog entry go by without pointing to my favorite Google hotspot: their zeitgeist page, that draws odd little factoids from the millions of searches they do every day.