Industrial Democracy and Innovation at Google

How does Google achieve its high level of innovation? The company uses an innovative management strategy supported by explicit investment in innovation. In one recent six-month period, Google engineers spent 20% of their time developing new products or features. This is significantly higher than the average, and a large volume of new ideas is produced. This innovation culture attracts high-quality engineers. However, it’s not all about innovation. Some critics point to Google’s recent perceived assault on Microsoft’s hegemony in business software applications as proof that the company is following a unique approach.

Google has a clear mission and a high degree of attention to detail, but all of this goes beyond the surface level. Everything that Google does is intended to extend its reach, and it internalizes the principle of information organization by understanding users’ intent. This information organization is at the core of Google’s strategy, and any company attempting to emulate it needs to understand the simple directives that govern its vast infrastructure and seemingly chaotic operation.

Google’s design process emphasizes multiple useful offerings and lets the market determine which ones are best. Google’s 132 million users serve as a massive test bed. It’s difficult to achieve ubiquity by building a product that has universal appeal without a market for it, and this innovation philosophy is at the core of Google’s strategy. In fact, Google has made tremendous investments in DoubleClick and YouTube in the hopes that they will lead to a thriving advertising ecosystem.