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What Would Google Do? (Book Review of the Week-ish)

How can you succeed in these challenging times? Customers demand greater service and support. Employees demand greater collaboration and openness. And other stakeholders demand transparency and accountability. Are you faced with this dilemma? Well, journalist, blogger and new media critic Jeff Jarvis offers a simple prescriptive: ask yourself “What Would Google Do?”

While calling Jarvis a critic of Google might represent a misnomer, the book is a compelling read. Jarvis – most notable for his critique of Dell that led the company to improve their social media positioning – looks at Google’s strengths and explains how you can apply those same strengths to your own business. And he manages to do it with style and wit. (My favorite line? “Beta means never having to say you’re sorry”). He also looks under the covers to examine the reasons why Google’s tactics have worked for them – and why they can work for you.

Where his arguments are strong, Jarvis’ guidelines offer businesses plenty of examples of how companies can thrive using the Internet. In particular, his thoughts on the future of content distribution provide valuable insights for your business. Jarvis does, however, tend to play the role of Google’s apologist, notably giving Google a pass for its “Do as I say, not as I do” style of transparency in product development. He also flatly dismisses concerns of Google violating its “Don’t Be Evil” motto when deep-linking to other publishers content. This isn’t to suggest Jarvis is wrong; in fact, I believe he’s right. He simply doesn’t make a strong enough case why that’s so.

Despite these flaws, What Would Google Do? offers an excellent view of a market leader and plenty of opportunities for you to model your success after theirs. Grab a copy today.

PS: BROTW-ish alum Daniel Pink was interviewed by Oprah recently for his thoughts on his book “A Whole New Mind”. Well worth the read.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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