Larry Page famously uses the word ‘moonshots’ (in reference to the wild adventures and progress in technology and humanities during the late 60s) to describe the focus on progress at Google — ‘to be measured in units of 10-times-better not 10-percent-better’.
This focus on massive radical improvement across all product sectors has seen Google become market leaders in many different categories, aside from search, including mobile operating systems, browsers, mapping technology, email, collaboration tools, and document storage. Google is currently working on several advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Life Elongation and Quantum Computing.
While these are all extremely admirable endeavours, that kind of constantly bounding forward culture is not a fit for every organisation. Even for Google, this focus on ‘doing things big’ has seen massively hyped products enter the market that have failed to take off at all. Google+ is currently the companies forth foray into social networking, having previously launched Google Buzz in 2010, Google Friend Connect in 2008 and Orkut in 2004. Google x (its moonshot lab) has been struggling to commercialise and bring many of its projects to life. People who work there or have since left have said the issues at X are not technical hurdles, but a combination of red tape and knotty internal politics.
That is not to say radical innovations should not be sought after. However rather than being pursued at all costs, we believe organizations should focus on building a culture of mutual understanding of how that company operates. By creating an environment where people are incentivised to constantly think about how things could be improved (from an incremental process change to a new market approach for an existing product to something they heard on the radio that gave them a good idea) and come forward with those ideas and insights. The more people have an understanding of how the rest of the company operates and the more they feel like they are collectively a part of something, the more likely they are to figure out how to improve their environment.
This concept of continuous improvement allows an organization to constantly reinvent itself through small incremental changes. This can help position the company as an agile and highly adaptable player in the market, but also creates the best conditions where more radical innovations can naturally occur.
Things do (or should) change a lot during the development lifecycle of a breakthrough project. Teams and companies used to continuously improving their personal and collective working environments has a lot less trouble when dealing with the constantly shifting conditions and high levels of uncertainty that are inherent with any breakthrough innovation project.
A company that practices continuous innovation is in effect creating the perfect environment for larger breakthroughs to emerge. With a greater collective understanding of its supply chain, operational and process structures, as well as well a culture of collaboration, transparency and adaptability to change, organizations are much better equipped to identify real breakthrough solutions that align fully with their current (or near-future) business objectives.
So while some companies may be willing to shoot straight for the moon, there’s significant business value to be discovered closer to home.
With that, I’d like to introduce Waypoint – the project navigation platform. We built Waypoint with a mission to help any team or business practice repeatable innovation management and product agility across a portfolio of potential, ongoing, and future projects – at any scale, regardless of sector or prior experience with portfolio development. Today, we enter the final phase of development. To say we’re excited is an understatement.
We hope you join us during our upcoming beta launch to help us realise this vision. From today onwards, we’re opening up several ways for you to put forward ideas or feedback, learn more about the platform, or get involved in the community.
First, is the intercom channel now active on the website. Please contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding the platform – we’re happy to chat.
Every Monday starting 3rd of August at 5PM GTM/1PM EST/10AM PST, we will be running webinars where viewers will be able to join in the conversation and discuss commonly shared problems and challenges faced when practicing innovation or agile.
If you’d like to contact me personally, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org