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Creativity at Google

by Michael Nielsen on February 24, 2008

Kevin Scott:

Google is undoubtedly an awesome company and was certainly a great place to work the entire time I was there. But. These unreservedly positive fluff pieces really aren’t doing the company a service. They irritated me when I was an employee given the too-perfect pictures they painted and what they missed. For instance, ideas at Google do not burst forth from the heads of geniuses and then find their way unimpeded to huge audiences of receptive users. Rather ideas emerge, are torn to shreds, reformulated, torn to shreds, prototyped, torn to shreds, launched to internal users, torn to shreds, rebuilt and relaunched, torn to shreds, refined some more, torn to shreds, put back together one last time, torn to shreds by SREs, tweaked again in a seemingly-endless frenzy of last minute work, and launched…whereupon they are torn to shreds by bloggers, journalists, and competitors. The magic of Google is that tearing to shreds, even when founders are shredding, doesn’t often mean outright project cancellation.

Sounds a lot like good physics research. The great John Wheeler, via a thought-provoking short piece by Ben Schumacher: “Make as many mistakes as possible, as quickly as possible.”

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