FROM a university project that had a garage for its first office to the world’s third most valuable brand with a market capitalization of $367.6 billion as of May 2015, Google exemplifies the modern disruptive company.

It’s not just the leading search engine. Google is also among the world’s biggest advertising networks and owns Android, the mobile operating system with the biggest market share. It pulled the rug from under Yahoo mail with its Gmail service, a product of a company program that encouraged employees to work on things they were interested in, to become the top email services provider.

It has an extensive product line, from an online office suite to corporate cloud services.

It is building a future, via “moon shot” projects, of self-driving cars and a global mesh of Internet connectivity provided by a network of balloons.

In 2001, Google named Eric Schmidt as its chief executive officer. It was meant to bring “adult supervision to a chaotic place.” Two years later, however, Schimdt said, he realized that Google was run differently, “with employees who were uniquely empowered” and thriving in a “rapidly evolving industry.”

Schimdt’s job was as much not getting in the way of innovation as providing the business framework for it to thrive. He and fellow Google executives Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle compiled the company’s best practices and insights into a must-read book for anyone who wants to do well in today’s new business environment, “How Google Works.”

The book provides important insights on how a company can thrive in the Internet Century, a time when information is “free, copious, and ubiquitous;” when “mobile devices and networks have made global reach and continuous connectivity widely available;” and “cloud computing has put practically infinite computing power and storage… at everyone’s disposal, on an inexpensive, pay-as-you-go basis.”

Advances in technology have upended pre-Internet companies that “built their businesses based on assumptions of scarcity: scarce information, scarce distribution resources and market reach, or scarce choice and shelf space.” These incumbents, the book said, “usually fail to understand how quickly they can be disrupted.”

The book discusses extensively key Google principles in building products, which are to “focus on the user” and to “bet on technical insights, not market research.”

The book’s main theme, however, is the need to provide business support for and create an environment where innovation can happen.

“The defining characteristic of today’s successful companies is the ability to continually deliver great products. And the only way to do that is to attract smart creatives and create an environment where they can succeed at scale.”

Smart creatives are different from the “knowledge workers” or specialists of the pre-Internet days, the book points out. They have deep “technical knowledge” in tools of the trade and business smarts and are “firehoses of new ideas.” They are driven and “don’t just design concepts, they build prototypes.” They are, however, “uniquely difficult to manage,” especially under old management models.

Smart creatives, the book said, “are the key to achieving success in the Internet Century.”

The book offers a Google anecdote on how empowering smart creatives makes good business sense.

Co-founder Larry Page once found some ads placed near search results “useless.” Instead of starting a corporate process that would have involved a long cycle of product meetings and development, Page printed out the pages with the ads he did not like, wrote “THESE ADS SUCK” on top and posted it on a bulletin board in their kitchen, near the pool table. He did this on a Friday afternoon.

A group of workers who were not even in the ads team saw it and hacked together a better system over the weekend, presenting it the following Monday. That system became the foundation of AdWords, now a multi-billion-dollar business.

That, the book said, speaks to the power of a culture that encourages smart creatives.

(max@limpag.com / http://max.limpag.com)