Google Lessons for Growth

Posted on by in Books, Business, Design, Growth, Planning, Strategy

If you thought like Google, how differently would you run your business?

In essence, that’s the idea behind Jeff Jarvis’s new book, “What Would Google Do?” (not to be confused with WWJD, though some do confuse the two :-) In a Businessweek (2/9/09) article, Jeff took and applied some of the core lessons from his book to the auto industry (you can read the article by clicking here>>).

However, since most of us aren’t running car companies, I thought I’d just share a few of the core ideas from the article and then let you play with them to apply to your own business. For example,

1. Give up Control. Don’t try to manage everything. Google doesn’t tell us how to do our searches or what to search for. It allows us to play with its technology and find happy accidents. Unfortunately, I watch too many executives and owners trying to control every part of the experience from their staff to technology to customers.

2. Low Prices are Good (Free is Better). Google doesn’t charge for us to use its search engine, nor for some of its most powerful tools, like the Google Optimizer or Google Analytics. It gives away a lot to drive the economic engine in another arena (Adwords). Though I’m absolutely committed to charging for value, there’s nothing wrong at all about figuring out what you can give away for free. The give to get strategy is alive and well–and in Googles case worth billions.

3. Release Experiments in Beta. Unlike some of us (me included) who prefer to release in full functioning perfect form, Google is willing to release new ideas in beta and then let’s users determine what to keep or change–or even if it should exist at all. Again, my observation is that too many of take too long to release ideas because we’re continually tweaking them (i.e. trying to perfect them), when we ought to be getting them out there and then letting our customers help us make them better.

4. Create Feedback Loops
. Following on the heels of the point three, the only way to continually improve is to continually receive feedback (which too few of us do). Google excels at this by making it easy to make comments and by aggressively seeking out customer feedback. Even more impressive, they actually want it :-).

5. Manage Abundance, not Scarcity
. Google doesn’t try to limit its exposure. The more content it can organize and the more places it can put ads, the better. Unfortunately, too many of us believe there’s a limited amount of opportunity out there and therefore spend way too much time trying to protect what we’ve got. Instead, we ought to think abundance and see opportunity everywhere.

6. Open Up Your Design Process
. Google is all about collaboration, not secrecy. So why not open up your design process and allow your customers to help you design what you sell, so they can then buy the very thing they helped you design? What a novel idea!

So, as you look at your context, in your business, which of these Google lessons do you need to apply in order to help you grow your business faster?

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