“What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis

I  have been reading a lot lately on the topic of innovation.  Specifically, I have been reading about the skills necessary to be effective at creating and sustaining a culture of innovation.

One of the books I’ve enjoyed was Jeff Jarvis’ book What Would Google Do?

When writing about the new ethic of our new world (as represented by Google), Jarvis writes:

“Make mistakes well
Corrections do not diminish credibility. Corrections enhance credibility. Standing up and admitting your errors makes you more believable; it gives your audience faith that you will right your future wrongs.
Being willing to be wrong is a key to innovation.
The worst mistake is to act as if you don’t make mistakes.

Life is a beta
Almost every new service Google issues is a beta – a test, an experiment, a work in progress, a half-baked product.
It is also Google’s way of saying, “There are sure to be mistakes here and so please help us find and fix them and improve the product.”
Google is unafraid of making mistakes that can cost money – courage one rarely sees in business.
It’s not the mistake that matters but what you do about it.

Be honest
… the language of the internet age: honest, direct, blunt, to the point, no bullshit, few apologies.
With Google, it is harder to hide behind spin, to control information, or to hope that people will forget what you said yesterday or the mistakes you make today.
In every interaction you have with your constituents, speak with a human voice as if you were speaking face-to-face. Be boldly, bluntly honest when admitting your mistakes – and when disagreeing with the public.

Be transparent
… transparency will build a relationship of trust with your constituents and open up new opportunities.
… transparency… the need to involve your constituents in your process, the need to hand over control through openness and information, the benefits of open-source networks, the benefits of the gift economy, the ability to listen.

Collaborate
Collaboration with customers is the highest and most rewarding form of interactivity, for that is when the public tells you what they want in a product before you’ve made it.
Ask people what you should do. Admit mistakes. Open up.
Your competitive advantage is not that your designs are secret but that you have a strong relationship with your community of customers.
It’s still your job to come up with good ideas, to invent, inspire, surprise – and to execute well. Companies are not democracies. But neither should they be dictatorships. … meritocracies.

Don’t be evil
“We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served – as shareholders and in all other ways – by a company that does good things for the world even if we forego some short-term gains.” – Page and Brin
They defined good behavior as delivering unbiased search results and not accepting payment for advantage in listings.
The issue is not that Google is a monopoly but that it has become the marketplace – the best place for us to find information and for advertisers to find us – as newspapers were in their time and as craigslist is today.
Is Google evil then? On balance, I don’t think so. But its day is still young. At least Google is trying to be good.”

What are other skills or ethics you see in effective innovators?

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