When the Best Google Sheet is the One You Don’t Make

Max Brawer
6 min readNov 2, 2020

How to build a more perfect workflow for data updates and changes by coding in Apps Script between the Sheets

Update Dec 2021: I am gearing up to teach a course on People Analytics to help others break into this world and grow — please fill out this form to show initial interest!

For well over a decade, Google Workspace (and Sheets) set itself apart by allowing sharing and collaboration in the cloud. I shudder to remember (though my parents still work this way) the life of emailing a file back and forth eternally with INITIALS — FINAL FINAL (2) tacked on the end versus working together at one link.

But what happens when you have a Google Sheet you don’t want to share?

The Best Laid Plans of Mice & Men (and Sheets architects) Oft’ Go Awry

In the Education & IT & HR & Finance worlds of sensitive data, among others, this is daily life. How do I create, read, update and delete sensitive information in a safe and reliable way?

The Problem: Even when people expertly use Sheets for these tasks, everything is still difficult, time-consuming, and unreliable. For example, let’s say you are trying to collect any decision from multiple areas of a business, like “who should we promote?” The intuition in Sheets is often:

  • Create a “master” sheet (or our fav business jargon, Source of Truth)



Max Brawer

People Tech & Analytics leader @ Atlassian, formerly Twitch, BuzzFeed, Google, Nielsen | Try his apps @ sheetswizard.com