Google was founded in 1998, at Stanford University, by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Google earns most of its revenue through advertisements. Its core-business revolves around its search-engine. Since its founding, Google has added many other services that they offer to their customers, such as email, telephony, online documentation, and more. The main goal for Google is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful for everyone.
Currently, Google employees about 75,000 people and is voted one of the top companies to work for by fortune.com. Google has a very innovative culture and is well know for being one of the first companies that introduced the concept of “focus on whatever you want for half-a-day each week” for the employees. This concept have been a very important successfactor for Google as many of their biggest products of today such as Gmail and Drive was a project employees started to work at during their “work-freetime”. Google has the mentality of always being in the change. Google believes innovation only could happen in a changing environment and Google is focusing on constant small increments.
Being a large company, Google enjoys the options of building and buying. They can either build a product on their own, or buy a company that has certain expertise for a product that Google wants to offer. However, Google usually prefer to develop itself rather than buying as acquisitions might affect the company culture.
Due to the company’s size, Google’s products need to be carefully coordinated. A metaphor that was used during the interview was that Google has many cruise ships and new products need to be aligned to wherever these cruise ships are heading. Products cannot be small lifeboats just floating around in the water. This shows that collaboration within Google is extremely important! Theodore also mention that the balance between incremental and disruptive innovation is important for product success as a product has to stay accurate on the market as well as not scaring users away. Theodore also stated that in Google everything is always in development by adding new features, stress testing etc.
As mentioned earlier, Google works with a concept of giving employees “work-freetime” where for a few hours a week they can join a group of people working on a new idea, or doing work on their own idea. The work usually leads up to pitching the idea in order to be able to work fulltime on it. The pitch is done in an incubator where employees can get coaching on how to pitch an idea and how to fit it in to Google’s vision. In order to make a project become reality a lot of convincing needs to be done and people have to support and be excited about the idea.
In a large organization, such as Google, it can be challenging to share information between employees and make sure everyone has access to the right information. However, it is important that documentation of projects gets done. The documentation don’t have to be heavy, but has to exist in order to create a organizational memory which include sharing and learning.
One way of measuring success for an existing or new product looking at UX is using the HEART framework. HEART stands for happiness, engagement, adaptation, retention and test success. This framework has been developed by Google employees and more detailed information can be found here: https://ai.google/research/pubs/pub36299.
Furthermore, metrics are also universal. “There are different incentives for different folks”, especially depending on which product or project and which stage in the process the project are in. The later in the process the project is, the more important financial the measurements usually becomes.
The Cluster Advantage
Even though Google is a large company, the cluster is an important factor for the continued success of new product realizes. By being in the cluster co-operation will be enabled as ideas gets shared easier as well as collaboration between companies. For example, a company in a slightly other industry may have a lot of knowledge that Google wants to get for a specific product. Sometimes Google collaborating in order to later be able to acquire a company, but Google also collaborate with companies that has products which Google’s products could be connected with. The advantage of cluster also comes with the large network of great talents that the cluster providing. The connection to the Universities in the cluster is also important for Google as Google get insights to possible future trends and research as well as providing a large amount of young talents. However, Theodore said that Google can be seen as a micro cluster in the bigger cluster as it is such a big employer in Silicon Valley with a lot of talents working for them on a huge variety of projects.
Google regularly rents goats as gardeners at their Mountain View Office
“A lot of trust and transparency early on is important for successful projects.” Theodore Chao, UX Research Lead at Google