Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Google & The Cult{ure} of Innovation




I'm still processing the information from the product development Google talk I went to at UC Berkeley.  Here are some initial notes I had & I'll post more on this later in the week.  I was expecting to find out that much of what makes Google, Google, is embedded with its idiosyncratic organizational processes and structure.  I really got that sense.  

Google is a metrics-driven company, so there are measurable expectations.  It's a collaborative culture, as opposed to one which rewards individual achievement.  Success is often linked to or requires playing nicely with others.  One of the things that struck me is how they treated failure.  "Failed" projects and technologies often serve as inputs to other projects/technologies.  Internally, there's a great deal of transparency in the company and many of the products embrace openness, in terms of the technology.
Also on my mind was how Google could afford to be innovative, which made me think of my simplistic "stagesetting" idea.  As of now, 90% of Google's $21.8B US revenues are from search advertising, which allows for a significant internal capitalization of innovation that's triaged by internal mechanisms that are data driven {qualitative and quantitative}.  One of them is 20% time::
"The 20 percent time is a well-known part of our philosophy here, enabling engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that aren't necessarily in our job descriptions. You can use the time to develop something new, or if you see something that's broken, you can use the time to fix it. And this is how I recently worked up a new feature for Google Reader."
So, with a commitment to innovation and a process to develop them, Google can launch a new product every 2 weeks.  


Examining other tech. companies from my other work, Google is also a darling of the capital markets.  One measure I've developed to measure capital market reputation takes analyst coverage and divides it by the natural log of revenues {I can send the paper to interested parties-see 4th. column below}.  Apple {1.611} and Google {1.512} both are attracting analyst coverage {as a proxy for reputation} and both are seen by many  "innovative" companies::

The question that was posed that I don't have the answer to is who will win the iPhone {Apple} vs. Android {Google} battle?  Will the openness of Google technology prevail?  The comparison made was Mac vs. PC in the 1980s, but a key difference is that Apple has an excellent user experience with the iPhone.


Twitterversion::  newblogpost:: Google & The Cult{ure} of Innovation. Prelim. thoughts on #Google as an organization after #UCBerkeley talk http://url.ie/2jcw  @Prof_K


Song:: Google me baby - mib








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