Every week, a group of Googlers would plaster the walls of bathroom stalls worldwide with one-page sheets that shared the week’s testing tip. One week, the one-pager might discuss dependency injection and provide a simple example of how to use it in various languages; another week, it might share how to set up a tool for measuring test coverage of your team’s codebase. The “Testing on the Toilet” initiative was a quirky and fun way to teach engineers something new and useful as they were doing their business. 1 It also highlighted one of the key strengths of Google’s engineering culture: efficiently disseminating a consistent and opinionated set of best practices to a large engineering organization.
I joined the Search Quality team at Google right out of college and stayed from mid-2006 to mid-2008, when the company grew from about 8,000 employees to almost 20,000. 2 3 I worked with two very talented engineers on my first project, and in a short six months, we prototyped, tested, and launched a new feature on google.com to show related searches to many millions of users every day. As the token Noogler on the team, what stood out throughout the experience was how quickly the company could ramp up a new engineer like me to be productive within its environment. Like the Borg, 4 the company had mastered the art of assimilating new engineers.