There's been no shortage of surreal news these days. At least the word that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) have traded workers in order to learn from one another is a surreal headline that isn't particularly alarming, just kind of odd.

It's sort of hard to imagine two companies more different than Google and Procter & Gamble (although they both have formidable brands). Google has worked hard on its "don't be evil" reputation. Procter & Gamble is a massive, old-school company, the kind most people don't feel all that warm and fuzzy about. And in contrast to "don't be evil," I can't help but think of that hilarious rumor that floated around for a while -- that Procter & Gamble was, in fact, a supporter of the Church of Satan. (This has been handily debunked by the trusty, which also reveals that Liz Claiborne and McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) have been dogged in the past by similar silly rumors.)

What's next? Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) sharing tips on how to treat workers? General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) getting together to chit-chat on exactly how one runs a company into the ground (or not, of course)?

All joking aside, though, I understand the spirit behind Google's and Procter & Gamble's seemingly odd exchange. (The Wall Street Journal article that reported the initiative goes into far greater detail on the specifics.) Both companies are dealing with a serious consumer spending slowdown, which has a huge impact on advertising. Meanwhile, one is an old-school veteran, the other relatively wet behind the ears. Companies can learn from one another, not only in terms of what to do, but what not to do.

I'm not a Google bull at the moment, given the recessionary times. Advertising always slows down during recessions, and I don't believe any company in the space is immune to that reality. However, I do have to give Google credit where it's due, and one of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick's best points is its ability to think a little more progressively about business. And in our current financial crisis, a little more collaboration and open-mindedness and a lot less arrogance would probably improve many companies' strategies. While such learning experiences may sound crazy, they may be just crazy enough to work.

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Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Wal-Mart Stores, Starbucks, and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Starbucks and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks and Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Fool has a disclosure policy.