One of the defining features of Google's management model – alongside it's fun working environment – is its analytical, data-driven approach to decision-making. New products are launched through carefully controlled experiments. Highly paid persons' opinions – HIPPOs for short – are disdained. The company's chief economist has even predicted that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians.

So it is no surprise that when Google started to review its management practices, in early 2009, it took a data-driven approach. Led by the VP for people operations, Laszlo Bock, and codenamed Project Oxygen, the initiative involved gathering more than 10 000 observations from performance reviews, feedback surveys, and interviews ...

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