8 ways Marissa Mayer will take innovation from Google to Yahoo

July 30, 2012 in The Work

Marissa Mayer is now CEO of Yahoo, leaving her post as VP at Google. Mayer was with the search giant for 13 years and you can expect that she will make some changes to help spur innovation at Yahoo. Fast Company iterated some of her keys to innovation while at Google:

  • 1. Launch early and often

While at Google, Mayer often ran into engineers with the seedling of a great idea who then wanted to hold it back from the world until it was perfected. Mayer instead encouraged them to launch it in Google Labs to find out how the market embraced it. Innovation is not immediate perfection.

  • 2. Generate idea lists

Mayer says that there’s an internal list at Google where ideas are posted. Then anyone can vote and comment on the idea. Many great ideas come from commenting on other ideas. Aiding idea generation might have been the reason that Intel launched IQ, which is curated by Intel employees.

  • 3. Set your employees free

Google lets its engineers spend 20 percent of their time working on whatever interests them. This free time has often translated to innovation that has benefited Google and may have otherwise not been produced if Google didn’t give its employees space to dream.

  • 4. Tweak good ideas that aren’t great

At Google not all tests in Google Labs turn out in favor of the product. However, Google realizes that these ideas have a kernel of something interesting inside of them. Google will work to continue shaping the idea until that kernel is tapped.

  • 5. Focus on customer, the money will follow

Mayer says that Google is focused solely on the user, realizing that the money will follow. She says if you can produce something that people want so much that they’ll pay a subscription for it, you’re golden.

  • 6 . There’s no shading data

Google approaches design as a science rather than an art, says Mayer. This means that rather than going with gut on what design looks best, Google tests out the designs and lets data do the deciding. Mayer has been criticized for doing this and has probably upset her fair share of designers, but look at the results.

  • 7. Share information company-wide

Mayer says that Google’s intranet has a vast amount of information on who is working on what for the company. At the beginning of each week every employee writes a bulleted email about what they are doing that is then compiled on a giant indexed Web page.

  • 8. Creativity loves constraint

Sometimes putting designers inside a box and letting them figure a way out is the best way to get creative. The specifics can be found here.

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