Would an Obama government be a Googleocracy?
Barack Obama was overheard bemoaning the corporate-style pressures on him. Would his government take a Googleist attitude to overcome that?
There they were, two up and coming Senior Vice-Presidents discussing how they would change things if they got the top job.
The top job they were talking about was National CEO.
Barack Obama and the leader of the traditionally snooty, but now trying desperately to be hippish, UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, strolled through the British Parliament last week and didn't mention V for Vendetta once.
Instead, Mr. Cameron told Mr. Obama he should go to the beach. Really.
And Mr. Obama recounted how someone who has already gone through the White House experience told him "the most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you're doing is thinking."
Naturally, this made me think of the tech industry. And, in particular, Google, a company that prides itself (or at least did last time I heard) on giving its employees one day a week to associate their mind with something slightly more free than the direct work function.
When Valley companies first came to the notice of those who wore tasseled loafers and tasteless neck adornments, derision was the initial reaction.
These are silly little children, the east coasters would say. They're just playing at business and they will get their fingers burned.
And if they weren't being described as childish, they would receive another damning slice of spittle- they would be accused of being vaguely effeminate.
Yet in the time it takes to flip up their zippers, folks in the more traditional industries were suddenly tucking their golf shirts into their khakis and believing they had found a new freedom. At least on a Friday.
So it makes me wonder just how far Mr. Obama, should he get elected, would adopt the management principles of Silicon Valley rather than those of the Valley of Elah.
Will we suddenly see a more dressed-down government? (I know Banana Republic, John Varvatos and The Golf Mart are hoping we do.) Might we even see a more direct correlation with the Nine Heavenly Graces that Google's Marissa Mayer laid down in 2006?:
1. Ideas come from everywhere.
2. Share everything you can.
3. You're brilliant, we're hiring.
4. A license to pursue dreams.
5. Innovation, not instant perfection.
6. Data is a-political.
7. Creativity loves constraint.
8. Users, not money.
9. Don't kill projects, morph them.
Of course, I couldn't possibly comment on how much Google has lived up to these principles. But I am told that at least the company has tried.
And how bad would it really be, for example, if the truly brilliant were all moved to participate in government? Or if 'users, not money' was just an occasional guiding shaft of light?
Sometimes it's hard to parse the truly material parts out of what seems like naive idealism. And the tech industry in general has sometimes suffered, at least in image terms, from its tendency towards idealistic impudence. And impudent idealism. Just as Mr. Obama has suffered for his overt penchant for green tea and his prissish avoidance of trans-fats and beer.
But perhaps Mr. Obama has already shared an audacious and hopeful low-fat biscotti with Messrs. Page and Brin. Perhaps, one day, we might see and hear the results of their ruminations. It would, one imagines, be as revealing as the conversation between Mr. Cameron and Mr. Obama.
It's Sunday. A good time to consider ideals just for a few hours. Why don't you go off to the beach? I understand it will make you a more ideal manager. Or, at least, a better politician.