Google’s Strategic Initiatives Team

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Google and its Strategic Initiatives Team

Google – certainly one of the most progressive companies in the world – has identified a role for a Strategic Initiatives Team.  This posting briefly describes the Team, project structuring, and competencies that Google expects of its leaders.

What is the Strategic Initiatives Team and where does it fit in Google?

The Strategic Initiatives Team is part of the Americas Sales Operations Group. The group spearheads tackles key challenges facing online sales, such as identifying and addressing opportunities and threats to Google’s business, ensuring the effective long-term growth revenue and profits.  Much of the day-to-day work involves structuring problems, analyzing data, making recommendations and driving implementation.  Operationally, the strategic initiative team works cross-functionally with partner organizations and relevant operating groups such as Google’s sales, product, engineering, finance, and HR teams.

What is the nature of the strategic initiative projects?

Google says that its leaders work on one to two projects at a time spanning a few weeks to a few months with end-to-end responsibility.

What are the key leader competencies?

The strategic initiative leaders drive complex, ambiguous, and potentially charged business issues. The stand-out competencies for the leaders include:

  • Personable yet persistent ­- ­This is the ability to build relationships, yet insist on results.
  • Impeccable business judgment – This is interesting. It goes beyond “good problem-solving and analytical skills.”
  • Consensus builders – The leader needs to manage many moving parts across cross-functional and cross-regional teams, again with an insistence on results.
  • Influencers of senior level audiences ­– The leaders spends time with key stakeholders probing for needs. They develop compelling recommendations for solutions.
  • Good with data and ambiguity - The leader needs the ability to pull data from multiple sources and to work the various stakeholders to interpret that data.

I derived much of this article’s content from analyzing recent Google job postings.

Does your organization have a focal point for strategic initiatives?  Do your strategic initiative leaders possess these characteristics?

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About Greg Githens

Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. a.k.a., The Strategic Thinking Coach. I'm a hands-on strategy & execution consultant with experience in driving change in Fortune 500 and mid-size companies through strategic initiatives and business transformation. I'm available for extended or short-term engagements. For an introduction to pragmatic tools that turns vision into results, attend my popular seminar, "Leading Strategic Initiatives (Program Management)."
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4 Responses to Google’s Strategic Initiatives Team

  1. Jacob Emard says:

    thanks for this article

  2. Greg Githens says:

    Microsoft’s senior leadership has created a new team charged with helping the company identify and respond to specific emerging competitive challenges that cut across Microsoft’s existing product lines. The goal of this team is to produce the “competitive forensics” – data from customers, partners, the field, engineers, and other sources – that will help company leaders frame the extent of a threat along with the appropriate response. This team will focus on just two or three specific areas, providing a level of depth of analysis and insight that will help the company set strategy.

    The Strategic Initiatives Lead is …… a smart, creative, well-rounded marketer who will focus on developing local proof points to support Microsoft’s approach to Openness. Openness is focused on how Microsoft works with standards, interoperability and open source software to benefit our customers.

    Through this work, the Strategic Initiatives Lead will demonstrate Openness of Microsoft platform in the Cloud via Open Government, drive mindshare for Microsoft among Open Source influencers & communities, and drive WW scale and alignment across subsidiaries & internal stakeholders.

  3. Pingback: Vice President, Director, Manager of Strategic Initiatives: Position Description Best Practices | Leading Strategic Initiatives

  4. Greg Githens says:

    Apple is in the mix, too, for retail….

    The Strategic Initiatives Team leads long-term, complex, and business-critical projects and programs. This team works cross-functionally across Retail, Online, Operations, Finance, Technology and Legal, producing innovative solutions to enhance and streamline systems and business processes. They are responsible for delivering the best customer experience in Apple Retail Stores, allowing customers to seamlessly and effortlessly engage with the best brand in the world.

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