Organizational transformation

Larry Page's Simple Metric

Sam Frentzel-Beyme Follow Managing Partner & Strategy Director

The Short of It

  • Larry Page's simple metric: are you working on something that can change the world? Yes or no?
  • At some point in our lives we switch from being actively creative and imaginative about our lives and the possibilities to supporting some type of status quo.
  • The real value of statements like the one made by Page are that they give us an opportunity to challenge our own assumptions about what it means to be human.

In the book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think,Peter Diamandis quotes Larry Page on his new metric.

"I have now a very simple metric I use: are you working on something that can change the world? Yes or no? The answer for 99.99999 percent of people is 'no.' I think we need to be training people on how to change the world. Obviously, technologies are the way to do that. That's what we've seen in the past, that's what drives all the change."

While you might discount the "change the world" approach to life as naive, I think there is an underlying truth or wisdom that is hard to ignore.

At some point in our lives we switch from being actively creative and imaginative about our lives and the possibilities to supporting some type of status quo. We go from questioning why the world works to supporting a life born in many ways out of socialization and habitualization, both on the individual and organizational level.

Jane Elliott's experiments in the late 1960's about racism are interesting example in and of themselves (the PBS documentary will change how you think about the subject of racism). But what's even more interesting is how adults react (see her doing the same course for UK adults here). There is an honest and very sincere lack of psychological pliability. The ability to actually ponder a theoretical question is lost.

And that's where the real value of statements like the one made by Page come in. They give us an opportunity to challenge our own assumptions about what it means to be human. About what we should do with the limited time that we have here. Just remaining open to an honest discussion about the possibilities of this world means that we haven't completely become cut off from kid we've always had within us. And that's the most important part to keep alive.

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