At Google, ‘Failure’ Equals Learning
March 16, 2009 10:24 AM
You’ve probably heard about Google’s 80/20 rule. That’s the rule that says Google employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time each day creating and innovating. That mentality at the search giant has led to new product launches, Google has said. It’s also critical to the maintaining a spirit of innovation, something that’s kind of essential at any Internet company.
It’s also led to amusing decoration at Google campus, noted Irene Au, the company’s director of user experience during a panel session at South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin.
“You end up seeing crazy things on campus, whether it’s plastic flamingos wearing sombreros on Cinco de Mayo or wacky ideas for products,” she said. “Google is inherently chaotic by design and that is how we innovate. Ask for forgiveness instead of permission.”
At the end of the day though, do any of these new ideas become real and viable products? Not many. In fact, earlier this year Google shut down its businesses that sold radio space and print ad space. And its famous Google Video service never quite took off on its own, though some of that technology has been folded into YouTube.
But failures are good, Ms. Au emphasized on her panel.
“Everything is an act of learning for us. We don’t see failures as failures. We see them as learning experiences. If you are a toddler learning to walk and you stumble and fall, that’s not a failure–it’s a learning experience.”