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Take it from Google: Tips from the top

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Google at age 10 still fans the flames of creative fearlessness. A few morsels from the bosses who drive innovation:

  • Douglas Merrill, former CIO and VP: “Google lives out loud. We argue about strategy and whether our products are good or bad. We argue about everything. You want conflict to thrive in a supportive way … we want to protect people who argue.”
  • Matt Glotzbach, product management director for Google Enterprise: His first day on the job, “I was told to come back with the answer at the end of the week. It was like, ‘Hey, New Guy, you don’t know anything about our business yet, and you don’t have any international experience, but here are some people who can help you. Go figure it out.”
  • Marissa Mayer, VP of search products: “Some like to code for months or even years, and hope they will have built the perfect product. That’s castle building. Apple is great at it. Others prefer to have something working at the end of the day ….”
  • Irene Au, director of user experience: “We followed people around for a day or so and watched how they used technology … Asian countries are less inclined to search because it’s hard to type the character set. So we developed Google Suggest; it predicts what you’re searching for so you don’t have to type the whole thing.”
  • David Glazer, engineering director: “Google has a high tolerance for ambiguity.”
  • Jessica Ewing, senior product manager: “We try to out-innovate each other.”

Lesson: Ask what Google asks: “Are we taking advantage of what we’ve got here? Are we doing enough? Are we doing everything we can?”

— Adapted from “Google: The faces and voices of the world’s most innovative company,” Chuck Salter, Fast Company.


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