Supplement | HBS Case Collection | March 2010 (Revised August 2010)

Systems Infrastructure at Google (B)

by Linda A. Hill and Emily Stecker


This case is a thick description of how a Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google, Bill Coughran, leads a high-performing engineering organization. The case focuses specifically on Coughran's use of encouraging two teams of engineers to develop competing solutions for application storage systems. It also shows how Coughran assembled an informal brain trust of managers and technical leaders that assist him in leading his 2,000-person organization. This case will be relevant for those interested in what it takes to lead for sustained innovation, particularly of knowledge workers like engineers. It also sheds light on how to develop leaders in engineering organizations.

Keywords: Innovation Leadership; Infrastructure; Management Teams; Information Technology Industry;


Hill, Linda A., and Emily Stecker. "Systems Infrastructure at Google (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 410-111, March 2010. (Revised August 2010.)