Lessons from working with Google – Robert Craven, The Directors Centre – Nottingham Digital Summit

Posted on 03/07/2019 by Team Hallam

The Summit continues with an insightful and interactive talk from Robert Craven who shares his lessons from working with Google, who he worked with in 8 different countries. Robert’s presentation has four main focuses: mindset, team, OKR’s and speed.


Robert found that the Mindset of the employees at Google was entirely different from the mindset of ordinary people. 

With each business Robert has worked with, he asks the same question; ‘what’s holding you back from running the business you really want to run?’ The presentation then broke out into a live networking session when Robert asked the audience to ask themselves this same question and discuss the answer with their neighbour. 

According to Robert, the most common answer to this question is ‘me’. Mindset is what it is all about. Taking risks and stepping outside your comfort zone can positively influence your business. 

Robert suggests that it is vital to always consider the following questions:

  • Why are we doing what we’re doing?
  • What are we doing?
  • Who will be doing it?
  • How will we do it?

The why is the most important part. It is absolutely vital to have a purpose in order to succeed. 


The second lesson from Google is the importance of speed. Robert emphasises the speed in everything Google does and he describes the speed at which they move as ‘absolutely phenomenal’. 

Working twice as fast as everyone else means getting twice as much work done per year. Speed allows businesses to get up to 90% perfect; the remaining 10% can be developed afterwards. Google encourages their employees to work fast, make mistakes and put products out to market before they are completely perfect. 

Interestingly, Google doesn’t have business plans for the year, instead, they have twelve-week business plan. They, therefore, work on a quarterly basis. The benefits of this is that it allows employees to stay motivated throughout the quarter, work fast, and hit targets successfully. 

By compacting things, you are always talking about incredible relevancy and making stuff happen in an incredibly different way. 

Ultimately, these twelve week years change the team’s mindset and attitudes to making things happen. Robert suggests that by implementing and focusing on speed, you learn more, and remain excited and motivated.


According to Robert, the Google strategy towards team is very commonsensical. This is made up of five key parts: 

  1. Psychological safety – team members feel comfortable taking risks and can be vulnerable in front of each other. 
  2. Dependability – team members work together to get things done on time. 
  3. Structure and Clarity – everyone knows what they are meant to be doing.
  4. Meaning – work is personally important to all team members. 
  5. Impact – team members think that their work matters and create change. 

For Robert, a strong team is at the centre of a successful business. 


Establishing OKR’s, or objectives and key results, is incredibly important for businesses of all sizes. Robert suggests that very tight and short lists are incredibly beneficial. This allows team members to figure out what to do and how to make it happen. 

At Google, the team as a whole has a number of targets for the quarter, and each team member has a sub-target stemming from this main target. This allows each member of the team to be certain in what they are doing, and work effectively with other members of the tea in achieving the common goal. 

Key takeaways 

In conclusion, there are four things we can take from Google: mindset, team, speed, OKR’s. Robert argued that a change in mindset, along with developing these other factors, allows the business to ‘escape velocity’. Robert defines this phrase as the coming together of turnover, hourly rate and utilisations of people which leads to the business becoming increasingly profitable therefore enabling the business to invest and grow. 

For Robert, the two most important focusses are mindset and team, the most important being mindset. 

By closing on an interactive activity with the audience, Robert reminded everyone that the most important phrase to live by in order to see clear results, is ‘just take action’.

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Lessons from working with Google – Robert Craven, The Directors Centre – Nottingham Digital Summit

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