Sunday, December 27, 2009

Don't be evil - why words matter

Here's an interview with the man who came up with the most memorable phrase in any mission statement:

Google's Don't Be Evil.

Did it really make a difference, Russ Roberts asked Paul Buchheit (who incidentally also developed gmail)?

Yes, Buchheit said.

It granted workers permission to question what their organisation was doing.

I've been reading about the Reserve Bank and its subsidiary Securency, about the Australian Wheat Board, and about James Hardy.

The last two have made brilliant books. The first might also.

There were good people in AWB and James Hardy.  Yet they were given no room, no permission to say "should we really be funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to a cash-staved murderous dictator  who will be killing our troops", "should we really be knowingly killing our workers and assuming that what happens to our customers is not our concern".

If those companies had had Don't Be Evil as their motto it would have made a difference.

It would have given them permission to ask, "is this really what we should be doing?"

If only.

Related Posts

. James Hardie - the video and audio

. Australia's James Hardie - close to evil

. Not so shiny