Innovation Is Not Easy -- Even for Google

Michael Lindenberger

Innovation -- loosely defined as coming up with ideas for new products and services -- is widely assumed to come naturally to tech companies, especially those with an entrepreneurial bent.

 

Yet even Google, the 800-pound gorilla of innovation, appears to be struggling with it.

 

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the search giant is asking its engineers to focus on making existing products more usable rather than cranking out new products at a breakneck pace.

 

At last count, Google had more than 50 new products in development. At least some of them are "a bunch of crap that they have no idea what to do with," says an especially blunt analyst.

 

Indeed, the dizzying array of new products flies in the face of the vaunted simplicity that Google employed for its famed search engine. Tellingly, none of them have been very successful.


 

Google isn't alone in experiencing innovation "issues." Some companies are so eager to find the "next big thing" that they are turning to previously untapped resources like consumers for help in creating new products.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 10, 2006 2:28 AM Sanjay Dalal Sanjay Dalal  says:
This is all about getting back to basics.  Innovation without established or emerging customer need is essentially shooting in the dark.  There is more to the story than just focused innovation at Google.  It has to do with creating a process and rigor that harnesses meaningful customer-driven innovation.  Here are Five takeaways stimulating Innovation that Google and others could possibly leverage (from Built to Last by Collins and Porras):1. "Give it a try--and quick!" - Having a process to try out a lot of stuff, and keeping what really works. The key here is to do something. Keep on trying something new.2. "Accept that mistakes will be made." - Learn from the mistakes quickly, and move on. Failures are part and parcel of what creates new innovation. Don't repeat the same mistakes.3. "Take small steps." - Experiment, but on a small scale. When something looks promising, go all out and seize the opportunity. This way one can do plenty of inexpensive experiments that create a funnel of would-be innovations.4. "Give people the room they need." - Without entrepreneurship, there is no experiment. Without experiment there is no success or failure. People need some time and room to experiment.5. "Mechanisms - build that ticking clock!" - How do you harness creativity and build innovation? It cannot happen simply by chance. Companies need to create practices and tangible mechanisms to experiment, try out new ideas and innovate.<a href=http://creativityandinnovation.blogspot.com/2006/09/failures-and-stumbles-driving.html>Failures and Stumbles can drive Innovation</a> Reply

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