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Continuing to Explore Google’s Successful New Product Development and Innovation Process
In the previously published blog on this site, entitled “Learn from the Best: Google’s 9 Principles of Innovation (Part 1 of 2)”, the first four innovation principles from Google’s 9 Principles of Innovation were discussed. These first four principles were:
- Innovation comes from anywhere;
- Focus on the user;
- Think 10x, not 10 percent; and
- Bet on technical insights.
This instant blog will discuss the remaining five principles from Google’s Nine Principles of Innovation.
From the Mind of Google: Google’s Nine Principles of Innovation (Principles 5–9)
- Ship and iterate. This innovation principle is the updated version of former Google executive Marissa Mayer’s 2008 “innovation, not instant perfection” innovation principle. “Ship and iterate” means to ship your products out to market early and often rather than waiting until they are absolutely perfect to take them to market. Your product’s users will help you “iterate” it by providing you with feedback to make the product better. Google first launched its Internet browser Chrome in 2008 and then every six weeks, launched improved versions of Chrome based on user feedback. “Today, using that approach, Chrome is the Number One browser in many countries,” said Gopi Kallayil, Google’s Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing, “You may not have perfection in your product, but trust that your users will get back to you.”This “ship and iterate” principle directly ties in with the “analysis paralysis” principle discussed in the innovation book Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation and in this previously published blog on this site. While careful analysis, reasoning, research, and due diligence are important parts of innovation in business and running a successful company, you must not let these actions turn into a crutch and ultimately an innovation In a quest for perfectionism, business leaders often stubbornly insist on revisiting over and over again things that have already been determined. This perfectionism makes it difficult for business leaders to actually “hatch the eggs” and ultimately can lead to missing out on significant market opportunities. To avoid analysis paralysis, you must create a culture of innovation in your business where there is freedom to fail and a lack of cultural self-consciousness surrounding failure.
- Twenty percent time. Twenty percent time refers to Google’s long standing principle where employees are encouraged to spend 20 percent of their work time pursuing projects they are passionate about, even if these projects are outside the scope of their job description or the company’s core mission. If you give your employees this twenty percent time, Kallayil promises that “They will delight you with their creative thinking.”At Google, the results of their “20 percent time” program include Google News, Google Alerts, and off-road Google Maps Street View. According to corporate folklore, a Google mechanical engineer was planning a trip to Spain but became frustrated when he couldn’t view a close-up view of his hotel in Spain on Google Maps Street View because the hotel was located on a road that was too narrow for the Google Street View car to enter. This prompted the engineer to innovate product improvements to Google Street View that helped widen its scope of coverage: he adapted the Street View camera to fit on specially-made Google bicycles, tricycles, and backpacks that would be able to enter places too narrow for the Google Street View car or enter tourist locations that ban cars from approaching the premises.While your company may not be able to offer its employees Google’s “20 percent time”, it should strive to offer employees more freedom to choose projects that interest them and do what they love as well as more autonomy to experiment and make decisions.
- Default to open. Back in 2008, it was Marissa Mayer’s original goal to promote innovation at Google by sharing information on Google’s intranet and facilitate collaboration among Google employees. Now, the updated version of this principle incorporates Google pulling ideas from the general public. As Kallayil said, “There are seven billion people…. The smartest people will always be outside Google. By defaulting to open, we’re tapping into the creativity outside of Google.”Examples of Google “defaulting to open” include the company encouraging non-Google developers to create apps for its Android platform. After all, when Google created its Android platform, they did so with the knowledge that it would be impossible to hire all the best developers in the world and therefore would have to “default to open” to get the best apps developed for their platform.
- Fail well. Google believes that there should be no negativity or stigma attached with failing. According to Kallayil, failure at Google is a “badge of honor.” Moreover, Kallayil said, “There is a belief in the company that if you don’t fail often enough, you’re not trying hard enough. Once we realize a product is not working out, we kill it, but the thing with products is they morph—we take all the best ideas and redeploy them.” For example, Google Plus—which is Google’s social networking platform—incorporates elements of failed Google products such as Google Buzz, Wave, Orkut, and OpenSocial.
- Have a mission that matters. This new principle for Google is, according to Kallayil, “the most important one.” Kallayil says, “Everybody at Google has a very strong sense of mission and purpose. We seriously believe that the work we do has a huge impact on millions of people in a positive way.”What is your company’s mission? Is everyone on the same page? Do your employees care about the mission?
For more information about how to promote and implement innovation at your company, check out the innovation books Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival and the recently published Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation.
 Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation (See pp. 25-27)
 Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation (See pp. 35-36)