Where do I want to work? This is a question that all of us are going to have to deal with sooner or later (sorry Seniors, but I’m glad I have 1 year left) and so I decided to look around a little bit and check out companies that I thought would be COOL to work for. I figured that a good place to start would probably be FORTUNE’s list of the top companies to work for (brilliant logic I know). So here I was staring at companies like Google, NetApp, Whole Foods, and Apple and it dawned on me- I want to work for a company that does things differently.
Let’s use Google as our example. We all know about the fun environment that the guys at Google have created with their amusment park/college campus infusion they have labeled the Googleplex, but what you might not know is that last year Google had over 750,000 job applicants. I don’t care what your profits are, if that many people want to work for your company it means you’re doing something right! Google has created an organizational structure and corporate culture that not only allows for employees to be extremely happy, but also boosts profits as well (they brought in $16.5 billion last year). I then thought about companies like Apple with their t-shirt wearing CEO Steve Jobs, who has created a work environment with intense pressures, long hours, but was still able to maintain the laid-back environment that has been an Apple staple since its founding. This culture has not only resonated with their employees, but it’s customers as well. The Apple environment has helped to create the army of Apple-heads that rally behind Steve Jobs as though he’s leading a cult.
The last company I want to highlight that has what I believe to be the most interesting organizational structure is a Northern California design firm called IDEO. IDEO employs people from all different backgrounds, from Stanford engineers to psychologists, and refrains from using a typical hierarchical corporate structure. Whoever is the best one suited to lead each project, leads the project regardless of “seniority”. The interior of the IDEO office building is just as bazaar as their organizational structure, with airplane wings and bicycles hanging from the ceiling and employees who were able to “design” their own office space. IDEO has been an innovation machine for several years, creating everything from toothbrushes, to microwaves, to medical equipment.
I can say with solid confidence that no one picks a career because they want to be miserable. When you look at these firms and the environments that their organizational structures have created you can’t help but want to work in a company like this. Yet, for some reason these kind of structures are still vastly in the minority. Last time I talked to a friend at KPMG or PWC he wasn’t talking about the gourmet cafeteria, free laundry service, or airplane wings hanging from the ceiling. So here is my question; wasn’t hasn’t corporate America mainstreamed this idea of creating a corporate environment that promotes happy, healthy employees that love their jobs, and more importantly that love their companies? In addition to the “happy” environment I would imagine that a company with this kind of structure avoids problems such as power struggles, coruption, and high worker turnover as well.
So, where do I want to work? I want to work at a company like Google, Apple, or IDEO! Who wants to join me?