Google, Innovation and the Willingness to Walk Away
When the words “Google” and “innovation” are used together, the tendency is to immediately think of the famous 20% policy – that dedicated day that every engineer in the company has to work on whatever captures their interest.
A lot of those project turn into successful products. Others don’t. Which is why Google’s decision to walk away from its former commitment to digitize what seems to be the history of every newspaper everyplace is worthy of note.
Part of what makes successful companies successful is their willingness to try, sometimes fail and definitely change their minds.
Google has become the poster child of exactly that capability. In fact, it’s what drives their culture.
In contrast, if you look at Microsoft’s decision to start – and now stop – their three year old Pioneer Studios skunkworks all-innovation all-the-time operation, the differences in culture become exquisitely clear.
Most particularly in the way that decisions are made.
Microsoft, as successful as it is and has been for years, built a bureaucracy. As well known as it is for its Office suite, IE and more, it is also known to be a hierarchical, bureaucrat’s dream with quick decision making and innovative nimbleness seemingly far down on its list of priorities.
In contrast, Google’s decision to move Larry Page back into the CEO chair demonstrated just how concerned the company always has been and still is that it keep its challenging and entrepreneurial, fast moving culture.
The other thing to learn from Google is that it looks for – and celebrates – innovation wherever it finds it.
If you take a look at the wonderful, award-winning Doodle 4 Google drawing that 7-year Matteo Lopez drew, you’ll see just how far that thinking goes.
How could anyone resist a drawing inspired by Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon? Or, even better, Matteo’s reason why: Because he wishes “to meet other people in different planets and go to other planets I haven’t been to” because “I’ve only been to Earth.”
In case you weren’t sure, that little boy you just met is Google’s future.