Google and the Search for Innovation

Google has managed to dominate the search engine sphere for as long as most of us can remember. Since then, they’ve been instrumental in changing the way that you and I look at the modern Internet. Without their innovations in terms of technology and connectivity, who knows where we’d be today.

Yet Google wasn’t always the giant we see today. Planted from the seeds of innovation, how did Google grow into something larger than life? What can we learn from their success not only as a company, but as a movement? Consider first that:

●       Google represents a company with principles. By establishing standards and sticking with them from day one, they’ve managed to embark on an ongoing mission that drives their innovations.

●       Google never stopped asking questions. They saw the search engine as something more. They went outside the box, poked the box and then dismantled it.

●       Google puts great emphasis on its team, the attitudes of its employees and creating an atmosphere that supports innovation.

Google has a thing or two to say themselves about the art of innovation:

“We see being great at something as a starting point, not an endpoint. We set ourselves goals we know we can’t reach yet, because we know that by stretching to meet them we can get further than we expected. Through innovation and iteration, we aim to take things that work well and improve upon them in unexpected ways.”

Not every company can be a Google; however, consider how your small business can incorporate similar innovations as it strives for success. Where do we begin?

Guided by Principles

In some ways, establishing principles may seem to move away from the concept of innovation. That is, we’re always taught to change, evolve and roll with the punches. Some may see principles as stuffy, unchanging rules that keep us stuck in our ways. Consider instead that principles are less about restricting yourself and more about sticking to your roots and keeping your mission in mind.

Google’s set of principles have largely been around since their inception and the company continues to follow them today. What sort of principles are we talking about?

●       “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

●       “You can make money without doing evil.”

●       “Great just isn’t good enough.”

We can see these rather humble principles at work today, even after the success of nearly 2 trillion searches per year. Ask yourself; what sort of principles are you running your company by?

Searching for Something More

It’s hard to imagine the modern Internet without Google. From our email to browsers and simple searches, that big “G” has become synonymous to the way we connect, do business and just plain exist online.

Yet Google had to overcome a number of obstacles in order to rise to the top. Remember Lycos? Altavista? During the dinosaur days of the web, Google faced fierce competitors in an oversaturated search market with a lot of moving pieces. How did they come out on top? Google managed to ask the right questions when it came to what a search engine was capable of. They saw the opportunities to integrate and capitalize where Yahoo! had failed and Bing continues to lag behind today.

It’s perhaps cliché to ask your business to think outside of the box when it comes to innovation. Regardless, there are always questions you can ask of yourself and your industry. While nobody’s asking us to reinvent the wheel, it never hurts to take a risk every now and then when the right opportunity arises. In the company’s own words:

“We try to anticipate needs not yet articulated by our global audience, and meet them with products and services that set new standards. . .Ultimately, our constant dissatisfaction with the way things are becomes the driving force behind everything we do.”

Putting the “Innovation” in “Team”

Google has established itself as an incubator for innovation. How? They emphasize the importance of a strong, determined, and driven team. They’ve started from the bottom with a core group of founders (who are still with the company today) and now employ thousands of enthusiastic, passionate workers. Google continues to emphasize the “team” aspect of business and craves new ideas, understanding that innovation comes from within.

Does your company incubate such innovation? Are you driving and inspiring workers with the same mentality or are you putting out the spark? In the words of Google:

“We believe that great, creative things are more likely to happen with the right company culture . . . There is an emphasis on team achievements and pride in individual accomplishments that contribute to our overall success. We put great stock in our employees–energetic, passionate people from diverse backgrounds with creative approaches to work, play and life.”

The Bottom Line

We can all learn a thing or two when it comes to Google’s rise to the top of the web. While innovation isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair, we can see how a principled, driven company with a dedicated team can edge out its competition. Is your small business still searching for innovation or have you found it?

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Megan Totka




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