From its inception, Google was born from an ideal. Google’s vision has always been to change the world and make it a better place by giving internet users easier access to the plethora of information available online.
Google stated as a Ph.D. student research research project, and both founding students were interested in radical change from the beginning: with “a healthy disregard for the impossible,” they imagined a much better way to search for information on the Internet and empower people’s lives, and they succeeded in creating that. They would not put off philanthropy until they became rich. Their vision of the world always encompassed both philanthropy and business. They created a successful business, which gave birth soon after to a successful foundation, using not only donations from Google but also Google’s search engine to make critical information available and help with global health issues such as genetic diseases or the flu, preservation of the world’s forests via Google Earth, and response to natural disasters via Google crisis.
Google doesn’t just sell advertising to brands and internet users. It serves its communities of users by making its search engine available for social causes, and it also leads by making business decisions such as not being present in the People’s Republic of China if that meant censorship imposed on Google by the Chinese government.
Google understand how to do business and do good: Google sells, serves, and leads change, all at once. There are specific differences among these three ways of looking at business.
–Selling views business as a transaction: ”I sell, you buy.” You deal with your life; I deal with my life.
–Serving views business as a transaction and a means to compensate for inequalities: “I have more than you, and I help you deal with hardship.” It represents a form of solidarity.
–Leading views business as a function of life, part of an interconnected web of relationships: “You and I are living together on planet earth, we are interdependent and interconnected, so let’s find a way to work together to make it a better place for everyone.”
Today connectivity leads to transparency: with all the information available on the Internet, there is no longer a place for businesses to hide. This enables consumers to make more discriminating choices. Therefore companies need to approach consumers as equal members of their community, fully disclosing the values they stand for and what lives behind their brands and business. By the mere fact of technology and the nature of interactions in social media, power relationships between brands, customers, and companies have completely changed. It is obvious that we live in an interconnected world in which attempting to dominate relationships with customers who now have a wide range of product choices, information sources, and huge channels of influence would be simply foolish; it is like sailing against the winds and it is no longer the best way to invest in and build customers’ loyalty. Companies that adopt this new philosophy will enjoy a new social and political status. They will be perceived by their consumers, employees, and business associates as political and social change agents: this creates stronger loyalty from and a better reputation with all of these audiences, which is all good for the bottom line. The twentieth-century model of serving, under which major companies would sponsor charity golf events or plant flowers in the local park, is no longer enough. Brands and companies need to position themselves as leader in their communities and act as such. Community leaders envision the future, take proactive positions toward their vision, and through every decision and action are committed to bringing more value to the community for both short and long term prosperity.