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Summary: Innovation at Google by Douglas Merrill

posted Sep 26, 2011, 9:41 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 15, 2011, 1:15 PM by Victor Reina ]

The reason of why Google is successful is because of their continuous innovations.

Google’s objective is to get all of the world’s information; the hardest part isn’t making information available, is to make it useful. The way to make that is by getting comprehensive and relevant results in a fast search, a great problem that gets resolved by innovation.

Kinds of innovation

There are 3 kinds of innovation: Incremental innovation which changes something small, incremental innovation with side effects is when a small change makes a bigger change happen and transformational innovation which makes a whole new world.

If you did a web search for heart attack you’re going to find a whole page of entries of all kind of things related to heart attack; a man did this and then looked up at some page with the heart attack symptoms, realized that was having a heart attack so he went to the hospital and lived. Why making him do two searches? Nowadays when you make a search you see a little box called “Search refinements” that helps you get better results. That’s an incremental innovation.

Google AdSense is a great innovation because the ads displayed are related to the web content, that increases the number of clicks; when a person clicks on an ad Google gets some of the revenue and the person whose page has the ad gets some too so the side effect is the creation of a more democratized information field.

Google started as a random assortment of hardware but after realizing they were going to be huge they started building pieces of software that could survive hardware failure which is a transformational innovation because they can run on incredible cheap hardware. A transformational innovation can start the clock on when to start incremental innovations.

Innovation is useless

Innovation itself is useless but innovations based on what the users need is likely to create economic value so whatever you do start innovating with the user.

“If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have asked for a faster horse” - Henry Ford

Users don’t know what they want but they know what problem they have so ask them about their problems, solving them is a great way to innovate.

Pay a lot of attention to the data because through it you can get plenty ideas to innovate.

Creating a climate of innovation

In Google there’s an innovation culture but to create a climate of innovation you need to get a lot of people with different backgrounds to argue, that’s the reason they serve food on Google, they put big tables in a small room so people can’t just talk to a small group of friends, they have to talk to the whole table about different things and that’s how they get their ideas.

Failure shouldn’t be punished because that way people will stop taking risks, you have to accept failures and create a process so than people can learn from their mistakes and keep trying.

Motivation is really important at Google and that’s why employees spent 20% of the time working on something else they want that isn’t their main project, the other 80% is more productive and something great can come out of that 20% (Google news came from that 20%).

 Instead of managing only big projects, Google supports chaos and let’s a lot of projects to develop. They organize them and measure them before killing them. If one project gives good results it gets financed.

Empower users

You can get innovation by letting the users doing it, you just have to give them the tools and that way they can create their own features or apps and your platform benefits from it.

You have to be your own user

That way you can see the user problems quicker that way and you can get good bug files.

Leadership is the answer

Leadership is critical in building diverse teams to obtain different perspectives, diversity is critical in innovation.