(p. 124) You could even see the company’s work/ play paradox in its bathrooms. In some of Google’s loos, even the toilets were toys: high-tech Japanese units with heated seats, cleansing water jets, and a control panel that looked as though it could run a space shuttle. But on the side of the stall–and, for men, at an eye-level wall placement at the urinals–was the work side of Google, a sheet of paper with a small lesson in improved coding. A typical “Testing on the Toilet” instructional dealt with the intricacies of load testing or C + + microbenchmarking. Not a second was wasted in fulfilling Google’s lofty–and work-intensive–mission.
It’s almost as if Larry and Sergey were thinking of Maria Montessori’s claim “Discipline must come through liberty…. We do not consider an individual disciplined only when he has been rendered as artificially silent as a mute and as immovable as a paralytic. He is an individual annihilated, not disciplined. We call an individual disciplined when he is master of himself.” (p. 125) Just as it was crucial to Montessori that nothing a teacher does destroy a child’s creative innocence, Brin and Page felt that Google’s leaders should not annihilate an engineer’s impulse to change the world by coding up some kind of moon shot.
“We designed Google,” Urs Hölzle says, “to be the kind of place where the kind of people we wanted to work here would work for free.”
Levy, Steven. In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.
(Note: ellipsis in original.)