Google Executive Shares the Online Giant's Rules to Enable Innovation

5:58 AM PST 10/11/2012 by Georg Szalai
Google

"Morph ideas, don't kill them" is one of nine rules, Mohammad Gawdat, vp, emerging markets tells the Abu Dhabi Media Summit.

 

ABU DHABI - "Nobody has the alibi or excuse not to be innovative, Mohammad Gawdat, vp, emerging markets at Google said here Thursday.

In a session at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit entitled "Change is Good," he shared the Internet giant's nine rules to avoid blocking innovation on a day that focused on start-up companies from the Arab world. He said they are well known to Google staff, but not typically discussed publicly.

Access to PlayStation and Wii video game consoles, free candy and food and aquariums with fish are the secret to innovation success, he quipped before sharing the nine actual principles.

Here is how Gawdat summarized the nine Google rules to enable innovation:

1. Mission.
"Start with a vision and openly share it with the team," he said, quipping that "it would help if the mission was exciting."

2. Hire the best.
Gawdat said that the best are often not the most expensive employees, but "always the most difficult to manage." He explained: "If you walk around Google, we are weird. We are seriously not normal." The "best" are "the best at a few things," the Google executive told the Media Summit. "Get out of the approach where you hire people who are like yourself and are well-rounded."

3. Ideas come from everywhere.
Ideas come from often unexpected places, and everyone can contribute, he explained. So, the principle of companies should be: "ideas are welcome, no matter how weird they may seem."
To illustrate the often unexpected nature of ideas out of left field, he played a YouTube video, in which a TV reporter asks a child dressed as a zombie about his great outfit. The kid responds: "I like turtles."

4. Share.
"No information is useless," Gawdat said. "Information is better shared than hidden."
He explained: "We over-communicate," but staff rarely tells press about such information. "We have very, very few leaks, because they believe in the culture and mission, they keep it to themselves," he said.

5. Morph ideas, don't kill them.
Google Wave was a product that "some geeks like me" thought was great, according to Gawdat. "Nobody used it. It was a total, total failure." But the company kept working on it and eventually made it into Google+, which has always been successful. "We always recycle," Gawdat said.

6. Speed matters.
The Google executive said there are no hour-long, but typically quick and efficient meetings at the Internet giant.

7. Data, not hype.
"It is data that tries every decision," Gawdat said. Results must always be measured, and ideas supported by figures. Instead of saying in a meeting that the Middle East will be "a huge opportunity," for example, a Google employee would be asked to come back with figures to provide more detail to support that hypothesis.

8. User comes first.
"And second, third, fourth and fifth," Gawdat said. Google's leadership always emphasizes that the company wants to ideally solve problems that affect millions. "If you solve it well, the money will follow one day," he said. "And from our financial success, you will see that it does follow."

9. Freedom to innovate.
Many cool innovations come from the 20 percent work time that Google staff is allowed to on anything they like outside their core job, Gawdat said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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