Google isn't just looking for a new chef for its cafeteria, it is even organising a worldwide search.
If you're into management books (which I don't recommend – even Harry Potter generally makes for much better bedtime reading), you've probably heard of Geoffrey Moore. He is a big supporter of the notion of 'core versus context'. If an activity is context, you shouldn't be doing it. Period.
Doing things in house allows you to pursue the best possible quality in the world. The trick it to find the areas where you need to excel in quality (the core), and those where perfection is a secondary need (the context).
Take the internal copy room. Whoever wastes his days in the basement room stapling and copying documents is unlikely to be a happy worker bee. He or she has zero career opportunities, and for the company profits it really doesn't matter if he is doing an excellent or mediocre job. It are just copies, you know.
The answer is called outsourcing. Get Kinko's to run your copy room, or abolish the room altogether and have the work done at an offsite location. Kinko's has a reason to hire the best copy makers in the world, train them and have them deliver brilliantly clear copies: they want to retain your business.
Back to Google. By launching a search for the best cafeteria chef in the world, the search provider is saying that it considers cafeteria food core business. But is its top quality food helping the search provider to sell more advertising and create better search algorithms? Or wouldn't it hurt to take one step back?
Even if you argue that the quality of the food has to be excellent beyond a level that any caterer can provide, there is no reason why Google needs an in house catering division. It can't possibly offer the chef the career path to stay with the search provider long term. After all that's how Google lost its last chef. Sure, there are Google stock options, but even money gets boring over time.
The quest for a new chef – and the fact the company is sending out a press release - does help it to establish itself as highly different. But at this rate, we could see a quest for the world's best security guard next week. After all, Google's corporate secrets need a level of protection that no security company can provide.
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