Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Creativity and Consensus at Google

Back in late June, BusinessWeek Online posted an interview with Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Search Products and User Experience. It covers Google's focus on simplicity and its experimentation with a lot of different products. But one of the most interesting statements from Mayer was:

If you write a 70-page document that says this is the product you're supposed to build, you actually push the creativity out with process. The engineer who says, you know what, there's a feature here that you forgot that I would really like to add. You don't want to push that creativity out of the product. The consensus-driven approach where the team works together to build a vision around what they're building and still leaves enough room for each member of the team to participate creatively, is really inspiring and yields us some of the best outcomes we've had.
It is important that products and organizations be market driven. To be market-driven, an organization must not only have product managers that do the appropriate research, but also be creative and build consensus for product decisions.

2 comments:

Mike Lunt said...

>> an organization must not only have product managers that...build consensus for product decisions.

Good product managers do this well within the R&D group, and the bad ones think that engineers should just to what they are told. I've never understood why product managers don't do more R&D presentations of objective data gathered from customers, like keeping track of the names and/or numbers of customers who have requested certain features. They often seem to be offended when asked to show objective data, but it's not a trust issue. It's a consensus building exercise that increases productivity of the R&D team by motivating them.

p.s. Still don't like the Blogger login. :-)

Bikram Gupta said...

In essence, what Marissa says is that Google can still continue to build products where a consensus-driven approach will be followed, where requirements will be changing in the course of engineering. And still they showcase some of the best-in-class products to the market.

How do they manage it? Can they sustain it, as they're stepping into (or already into) a growth mode? What other companies can learn about this?

Thanks.