This interesting interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt covers many topics:
The trick is to have everybody participating in the decision and make sure everybody has been heard. The book Wisdom of Crowds (by James Surowiecki) says that you have to have two things to make better decisions in groups. One is you need a deadline, which someone — at the end of the day is me or some external factor, and the second is that you need a dissident. There needs to be one person who will sit there in the room and say I disagree, and then the person next to him or her will say, “Well, yeah.” See, everyone waits for the first person to be the dissident, and then they pile on, and that’s how you have a healthy argument.
The culture of challenging ideas as done in the academic environment seems a key cultural component of Google. So many other organizations may talk about striving for the best solutions but so much actual activity is driven by who says what not by what is best. Even at Google that is certainly true to an extent, but Google seems much more committed to the best solution. The culture is one of finding the best engineering solution.