Google’s ‘Simplicity Sprint’ Aims to Make Company ‘Mission-Focused’

Almost 24 years after its incorporation, it seems like Google is trying to recapture some of its old startup energy.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has launched a new initiative, dubbed “Simplicity Sprint,” that will supposedly boost the company’s efficiency and focus. “It’s clear we are facing a challenging macro environment with more uncertainty ahead,” he told employees during an all-hands meeting last week, according to CNBC. “There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the head count we have.”

The solution? An initiative that will supposedly help Google become “more mission-focused, more focused on our products, more customer focused.” On a tactical level, that will mean a crowdsourcing effort through mid-August, with employees expected to offer ideas for quicker and better product development. An internal survey will ask employees to contribute their thoughts on everything from team workflow to product quality.

Like many other tech giants, Google has slowed its hiring in response to economic uncertainty. At the same all-hands meeting where Pichai announced the “Simplicity Sprint,” Fiona Cicconi, Google’s Chief People Officer, also didn’t dismiss the idea of future layoffs: “We’re asking teams to be more focused and efficient and we’re working out what that means as a company as well. Even though we can’t be sure of the economy in the future, we’re not currently looking to reduce Google’s overall workforce.”

For the moment, though, Google continues to hire for critical roles. It’s also revamping its internal performance review system to give employees a better shot at advancement and career development; according to The Information, an internal review showed that 47 percent of Google employees thought the search engine giant’s old performance review system, which featured two evaluations per year, was a waste of time. The new system will feature a readjusted ratings scale and boost opportunities for promotion.

Will a revamped internal review system, a “sprint” of crowdsourced ideas, and a cultural focus on becoming more “entrepreneurial” help power Google forward? That’s a trillion-dollar question. With several key initiatives coming up over the next few years, including a plunge into the augmented reality market, Google will need its employees doing their best work—and feeling really good about their company.