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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Google Look Ahead View

Eric Schmidt in an interesting interview talks about Google’s planning strategy and the way innovation is fostered. He believes that one way to foster innovation is by asking questions.

On Planning Strategy : We say we run the company chaotically. We run it at the edge. But the truth is the company is pretty thoroughly planned financially. We have a three-year financial plan that we're submitting to the board. We have data center plans for 2007, 2008 and 2009. We modeled our financials, cash flow. And it's possible for us to predict reasonably accurate cases there. We have a one-year strategic plan, so we have a plan for 2007, about what we want to be next year. What are the markets we want to enter.
On Innovation :We run the company by questions, not by answers. So in the strategy process we've so far formulated 30 questions that we have to answer. I'll give you an example: we have a lot of cash. What should we do with the cash? Another example of a question that we are debating right now is: we have this amazing product called AdSense for content, where we're monetizing the Web. If you're a publisher we run our ads against your content. It's phenomenal. How do we make that product produce better content, not just lots of content? An interesting question. How we do make sure that in the area of video, that high-quality video is also monetized? What are the next big breakthroughs in search? And the competitive questions: What do we do about the various products Microsoft is allegedly offering? You ask it as a question, rather than a pithy answer, and that stimulates conversation. Out of the conversation comes innovation. Innovation is not something that I just wake up one day and say 'I want to innovate.' I think you get a better innovative culture if you ask it as a question.

This is one step better that the structured chaos as it was reported sometime back. No doubt, around the world there’s a good feeling about Google and its talk about entrepreneurial, innovative streak. Solid delivery may matter a lot more- Look at amazon. It is delivering much better on the technology front and its vision is indeed amazing. Yet it may be seen as a laggard by investors. Google's incremental rollouts are just that - incremental only. For examle, the relaunched google reader in my opinion still lags behind Bloglines. Its recent partnership with the likes of eBay, Myspace, MTV all these make sense. At the end of it he would imagine that Yahoo & Microsoft to be the principal competitors. Would innovation happen just by asking questions –its another matter that principal competitors look to score poorly on this front as well. Still the questions of where Google is headed and what it could be doing five years from now need more communication.

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