Invention within Google

X (the moon shot factory of Alphabet, parent company of Google)

This factory encourages regular investigations of the "absurd", based on 3 principles, ie

i) must address a huge problem

ii) must propose a radical solution

iii) must use relatively feasible technology (stressing simplicity)

NB However, there is a need for psychological safety, ie people need to be feeling safe when they are out of their depth, making stupid comments, asking ignorant questions, etc. There also must be an acceptance that some ideas will fail, and that failure provides a learning opportunity.

Of around 100 ideas considered annually, only a few become projects like Waymo (self-driving cars).

Need to get the right balance between audacity and achievement. It involves high risk experimentation.

Need to know when to stop a project, ie it is not going to make it commercially.

Simplicity is important. Generally,  to achieving simplicity requires complicated designing.

NB difference between invention and innovation.
"...Invention is (usually) the work of scientists and researchers in the laboratories......innovation is an invention put to commercial use......seldom do the two activities occur successfully under the same roof. They tend to thrive in opposite conditions; while competition and consumer choice encourage innovation, invention has/had prospered in labs that are insulated from the pressure to generate profits..."
Derek Thompson, 2017

Need to analyse every project, ie
"...If this idea succeeds, what will have been the challenges? If it fails, what will have been the reasons?..."
Derek Thompson, 2017

A good example of a failed project is Google Glass (head-mounted wearable computer that resembles a pair of spectacles). It was billed as a way of freeing people from their screens and making technology seamless. It failed for 2 main reasons:

i) too much engineering focus (not enough customer focus)

ii) lacked a  systematic way of turning science projects into businesses, ie business model

NB It stressed the need for inventors (creators) and innovators (implementers) to work together. Inventors can include scientists, researchers, technical specialists, etc. Innovators can include former entrepreneurs, business strategists, designers, user-experience researchers, marketers, salespeople, accountants, project managers, etc

 

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