Google is well known for its cross-functional, or team-based, organizational structure. The traditional corporate structure is to have employees at the bottom, supervisors above them, middle managers above supervisors and top management above all. This is the vertical approach to management. Decisions are made at the top and orders are sent down to the employees at the bottom. The cross-functional organizational structure used by Google is more of a team approach to management. By allowing all employees to be a part of decision-making, Google maintains a small-company feel and promotes the notion that all employees play an equally important part in Google’s success. This type of structure places more importance on intelligence and ideas than on titles.
Google's Reorganized Structure
In 2015, Google's CEO, Larry Page, announced a major reconfiguration of Google's organizational structure. The company formed a conglomerate called Alphabet, a new holding company composed of independent operating units, including Google. The Google search engine and related businesses, including Android, Gmail, and YouTube, to name a few, would be just one of these units. Alphabet would also be home to nine other companies.
In 2017, another shift was announced. Google was changed from a corporation to an LLC or limited liability corporation, which Alphabet believes better suits an affiliate company owned by a parent. In addition, Alphabet created a holding company called XXVI Holdings, Inc. that acts as an umbrella over Alphabet and all its businesses.
The revised structure of Google allows the company to focus on new ideas and projects without detracting from its core successes. Some important projects include Waymo, Google's self-driving car and a growing crop of hardware businesses from smart home products to mobile phones.
A New Motto
Founded in 1998, the company's motto originally was Don't Be Evil. When Google restructured in 2015 under Alphabet, the old motto was dropped and changed to Do the Right Thing. This more positive leaning – yet less humorous – motto puts the company's focus on doing right, instead of avoiding wrong. The company's revised structure is an attempt to stave off possible future problems while it emphasizes continued growth. Google's new motto, combined with its corporate structure, is putting the company on a different path in an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of getting too big and too hyperfocused on its core products.
Heather Skyler is a business journalist and editor who has written for wide variety of publications, including Newsweek.com, The New York Times and Delta's SKY magazine. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Miami University and a master's degree in writing from the University of Washington in Seattle. Before writing for a variety of publications, she taught business writing in Seattle.