It is not a secret that many people consider Google to be an elegant solution, a finely run company and a bastion of innovation. I’d say they earn those stripes every day. Yet, when we talk about the Google Graveyard, it’s as if this is a bad thing. So much so that earlier this year Slate Magazine allowed readers to put flowers on the graves of its most missed concepts (mine would go to Reader. RIP Reader, I miss you). It’s actually a regular feature – they clean the withered flowers off after a period of time – implying that Google has a long and storied history of failures. They do.
I’d argue instead (contrarian that I am) that it’s a strong part of their success, a review of good ideas. A mound of learnings I would excitedly dive into. That Google is willing to #FAIL in such a public fashion is a necessity of their business. Tech changes every day. Some new product fails every day (see yesterday’s post for two more).
If you are not putting a host of ideas out there, you will have very little understanding and even less to optimize. See, that’s the funny thing about optimization – you can’t optimize just one thing. Optimization is contextual. It requires a benchmark, a baseline, a level. If all of your benchmarks are external, then you are not learning. You’re merely applying someone else’s information. Google is willing to do the hard work of going first. And that means they learn more than most other companies out there.
The best companies set the bar high. And that means they will invariably fail. I ask myself, is it better to be early or irrelevant? Early teaches us so much more.
cjgw || @hermione1 || cristene gonzalez-wertz
PS – 7/24 – this is by the way, a list of all the other stuff Google is doing. So what if they have a graveyard, they also have a metric ton of coolness: – thanks to Overdrive Interactive for publishing this remarkable view: http://www.ovrdrv.com/goog/pdf/Google_World_Infographic.pdf