Google’s Innovation Secrets by Ben A. Ratje

Google is the world’s No. 1 search engine. Google is also the world’s No. 2 most innovative company (right after Apple) based on BUSINESS WEEK magazine’s annual list of most innovative companies.

The search engine has amazed us with innovations like Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Mail (, and many others over the years. It seems there is no stopping them

What makes Google so unique?
What makes Google’s staff (also called “Googlers”) so creative?
What makes them so innovative?

1.       Do NOT take things seriously

Googlers do NOT take things seriously. They are playful. They are open. They are willing to try out new things they’ve never tried before. They brainstorm a lot.

In short: They have no barriers. Hence they have all options to create cool, interesting, new and innovative products.

2.       The 70-20-10 Rule

Googlers focus 70% of their time on their core business. Googlers focus 20% of their time on related but new areas. Googlers focus 10% of their time on wild and crazy ideas.

On top of that Googlers get one full day to work on whatever they want to work on. How much time do you spend on new areas and crazy ideas?

3.       Playground Environment

Have you ever seen the Google office? If not, you might want to go online and check it out. To put Google’s office in one word: “playground”. Googlers are surrounded by fun design furniture, playstations, multiple crazy things to play with and even have their own swimming pool and beach ball court available anytime.

Imagine you were surrounded by a creative environment like that 24 hours a day. Would you become more creative? You bet!

4.       360-Degrees Idea Generation

Google prefers to generate ideas from inside the company, but are also willing to get help from outside companies and experts.

For example, in 2004, Google bought Keyhole, a company specializing in getting maps via satellite imagery. Hence, we now have Google Earth.

How much help does your company get from outsiders to further develop your ideas?

5.       No Hierarchy

Google has a very flat hierarchy, even though it has 19,835 employees worldwide.

A former Google employees reported that he had only one meeting per month with his manager, that the hierarchy had only 5 levels (Programmer – Tech Lead – Manager – Department Leader – Larry/Sergey/Eric) and that everyone is treated as equal to others.

Google does things differently. Google’s difference leads to their innovative edge and makes them more successful. Do you (and your company) do things differently?

© Copyright 2010 Ben A. Ratje All Rights Reserved

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