The question Google asks itself to create the future and avoid irrelevance

How Google Works by Eric SchmidtHow does Google do it?

I just finished reading How Google Works, a tell all book by Eric Schmidt’s and Jonathan Rosenberg about their experience working at the innovation powerhouse. It’s a quick read, and much of the material covered, such as how Google manages, makes decisions, innovates and hires, have been well covered in other Google books as well as in the tech media.

More than How Google Works, people, organizations, governments and businesses are interested in how Google keeps innovating. It’s important to understand that while that is important, all the other factors ­­(hiring, management, processes, etc..) play in how they are able to continually come up with great products and services. But, if were were to codify Google’s innovation mantra it would be this: hire brilliant people and get out of their way.

Which is brilliant.

One thing that did get my attention is how Google thinks about the future. It asks itself a question: What could the world look like in 5 years? What will change? What won’t change?

Which, if you think about it, isn’t that mind opening. But if you’ve been around non-innovative organizations you know this focus on the future isn’t common; much executing anything that creates new worlds.

I’ve mentioned before that the point is not to predict but to create the future. To do so, you need to develop a point of view of what you’d like to see in the world, then you can look at trends of technology and globalization to create some very rational scenarios of what might happen and maneuver your business to take advantage of that.

Frankly, many of the things Google and other innovative organizations do to make innovation happen can be done by anyone. But most everyone doesn’t. Why? The reason non-innovative organizations don’t look that far out, hire and manage for innovation is because it’s impossible to predict the future, but also because most just don’t care about creating the future.

Anyway, How Google Works is a good book if you’ve never read anything about Google. If you follow Google and have read many of the other books written about their history, then you are not missing anything with this book.

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