Innovating new products helps a business grow in remarkable ways. Companies evolve to make products that will satisfy their customers’ needs and expectations, gain a competitive advantage and increase their market share.
However, you will be surprised to know that of all the products the companies launch in the market, about 70-80% fail.
In all cases, having a product development strategy comes to the rescue.
A product development strategy that focuses on understanding customers’ pain points, organizing user and market research, and planning the resources needed to craft the product is beneficial.
It helps to get a real-world experience of companies that implement these strategies and give value to their customers, innovate, and boost their growth. All the while keeping customers at the center of the product development process.
This article will look at a company, Google, that will teach you a lot about innovation and product development.
Google’s Product Strategy
Who needs an introduction to google? An online search firm, Google is an idol for many companies. It began as a search company but now offers hundreds of products and services such as YouTube, Gmail, Chrome web browser, and many others.
Their approach to innovation and product development strategy stands out for most of us.
Every quarter, google launches new products in the market. For many years, they have only set the higher benchmark with innovation.
It is amazing the breadth and depth of industries they make an impact on and launch new products that people go “wow.”
You might be wondering how does google keep up with the pace?
How do they come up with unique products and launch them successfully?
What is the formula that they use?
We will give you that formula today: Google’s product development strategy.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for a more in-depth take on googles product strategy, get yourself a copy of the book “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg.
Read on if you are an entrepreneur, a product manager, or simply a curious being looking for inspiration to create unique products.
Google follows a technology-driven product development strategy. They maintain the competitive advantage by keeping innovation at the center of everything they do and create.
Before we delve into the nine principles, let’s examine a story of failure and victory.
Two years ago, Google announced it would end its “google glass explorer program.” They never shied away from ending products that didn’t go as per their plan.
Google glass explorer didn’t have a good market. This is a valuable lesson for everyone in the industry. Google’s story is not only about success but also about the way it can handle failure. Google’s 9 Guiding Principles and Values:
There is no secret recipe for Google’s innovation. In 2008 Google published the ingredients to innovate the best products and the way to capture the market successfully.
Former Google executive Marissa Mayer initially released the nine principles of innovation. However, they later revised the principles by making some changes.
Now we know that not all companies or startups have the resources that Google has, such as human and financial capital.
However, that doesn’t stop you from taking away what suits your company and innovating in a better way. Let’s begin!
Innovation Can Come From Anywhere
Innovation doesn’t come from designation. Innovation can come from anywhere and anytime.
You can get an idea even if you are a top-level executive or an employee in a different department.
Employees at the bottom level of the organization tend to get more ideas because they are less involved in the main business.
Fact: Google’s health manager suggested that google must optimize the suicide prevention hotlines. As a result, Google started giving suggestions for search information results: ‘where to call for?’.
It is often a myth that innovation occurs in engineering labs and R&D departments. However, the employees working in the organization come up with ideas.
Also, having a professional certification and experience does not mean that you are a creative person. Having a life experience is also considered valuable.
Fact: The popular AT&T drive mode app automatically replies to incoming messages when a vehicle is at 25mph. This helps the driver not look at the messages but instead stay focused on the road. This brilliant brainchild came from a call center employee.
Betting on Technical Insights
One of the essential aspects of a new product is to bet on technical insights that will help solve a problem in a novel way.
There are three points hidden inside this value.
- Technical insights refer to the questions you must ask, where is the industry heading? What is going to be true in the next five years?
- Solving a big problem: On the basis of the tech insights you get from the above questions, what are some of the most significant issues blocking this right now? Why hasn’t it happened yet? What will accelerate or boost this phenomenon?
- What solutions can you come up with for the above problems? What is the novel way to face this issue?
When building a new product, you want to keep these three points in mind. You will then have a product that your target audience will want to buy.
A newly added principle also states having the courage to stick with a bet for product development. As we know, products that get launched can fade away due to competition. Market aversions for products are not new, and Google has also faced them.
However, the great thing is that Google has given a longer timeline for its beta versions of the products.
Google created the market for AR with its google glass launch in 2013. This inspired several other companies, like Epson and Sony, to develop business-oriented AR tools and smart glasses.
When others were launching these products, Google took a step back after about two years of market research, feedback, and compliments.
However, this gave Google’s glass explorer 2.0 a better launch.
Google encourages its employees to take 20% of their working time on innovation and building new ideas.
Features in various products such as google maps, google news, and google alerts have come from this principle of giving employees TIME to think harder.
Default To Open
The unique product development principle that google follows is ‘default to open.’ This principle focuses on the value of ideas coming from outside the company.
Out of the 7 billion people on earth, not everyone who works for google is the smartest.
Therefore by defaulting to open, google welcomes creative ideas from outside in product development.
You can suggest system flows, point out bug fixes and ideas, and in return, Google rewards you.
Fact: For instance, Google’s open-source project for Android Operating System garners about 1.4 billion activations on a day-to-day basis.
They also invite the public to create demo videos. One such example is the Chubby Bunny video that went viral.
Google is known for its successful products. However, as we discussed earlier in this article, there are some Google products that failed to make a mark in the market.
Some of these products are:
- Google notebook
- Google desktop
- Google reader
And many others.
However, Google’s guiding principles point out that failed products are a badge of honor. As we know, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying enough.
Once you get to know that a product isn’t doing well in the market, it is best to say goodbye to it and morph it into a new version of the product.
As we saw earlier, google reinvented google glass in the same way.
Having a Mission That Matters
Google strongly believes in the two pillars of motive and mission, so their products’ impact on users is positive.
Google’s purpose is to serve its customers better.
Let’s take the example of the app that Google launched in 2011, just hours after a massive earthquake in Japan.
The app-person finder tool helped the people affected by the earthquake find their relatives.
Now you would think that this is a marketing tactic. However, having a mission that truly matters helps Google stay at the top of its game. Succeeding is the byproduct of the mission.
Google’s Chief Evangelist for brand marketing Gopi Kallayil says, “Everybody at Google has a powerful sense of mission and purpose. We seriously believe that the work we do has a huge impact on millions of people in a positive way.”
Fact: A strategy that Google truly follows is “releasing five products so that at least 2 of them will take off.”
Focusing on the Users
All the products that google crafts have their customers in mind. Google encourages its employees to build products that solve customers’ problems.
Fact: Experts always point out that revenue will follow only if the developers focus on the users.
Even Gopi Kallayil pointed out, “revenue issues take care of themselves.”
Google doesn’t keep profit in mind; therefore, it has its user’s needs at focus.
Pro tip: Problem-solving is the main requirement from the users of the SaaS development companies. Therefore that is the only way a product will succeed if you give your users what they want.
10X Approach To Thinking
According to Google, innovation takes place when you push yourselves to try by ten times and not just by 10 percent.
You can reimagine an idea if you think in a 10x approach. For example,
How is this product better?
Is it ten times better and lighter?
This idea of thinking 10x came from the co-founder of Google, Larry Page. One of the outcomes of this thinking was the birth of Project Loon, where the team used giant high-altitude balloons to provide wifi in remote parts.
Note: The 10x approach is not necessarily applicable to all companies. Only mega-companies like google are able to consider it.
Know that innovation doesn’t always have to be about reinventing the wheel. It can also be about improving or making some changes to the wheel.
There are two kinds of innovation:
- Revolutionary innovation
- Incremental innovation
You can strive for revolutionary innovation. However, it is not the only successful kind of innovation.
Incremental innovation or small-scale changes can also make a product marketable and drive success and profit for your company.
Massive revolutionary innovation changes make the process seem more daunting and less accessible for many people.
No innovation is perfect or final. Sometimes it needs change and amendments.
Making the required tweaks to the product at the right time makes it attractive to the market. It will keep your product young and relevant too.
Making small-scale changes to an innovative product is much easier.
However, making changes can be challenging if you have a revolutionary innovation.
For instance, an enterprise product development can afford to make specific small-scale changes to its product.
Fact: One example of incremental innovation is Gillette razors, which began with a single razor blade. With time Gillette incrementally innovated by adding more blades and various features. These innovations helped meet customers’ needs and eventually improved the product.
Coca-Cola’s brand line extensions, such as Coke Zero and Coke Life, are examples of incremental innovation as well.
Some of the features of incremental innovations are less risk and less investment. Due to this nature, many companies like to stick with it.
Pro tip: Incremental innovation is a safe option when it has previously worked for the company’s new product development process.
However, also know that most companies are missing out on innovation because they don’t see beyond incremental innovation.
Shipping and Iteration
Ship and iterate is the updated version of the initial principle of “innovation, not instant perfection” that Marissa Mayer had given in 2008.
The principle focuses on shipping your products early in the market and not waiting until they are perfect.
You can make it perfect and “iterate” once your customers provide feedback on the product and make it even better.
For example, Google first launched its Internet Browser Chrome in 2008. After that initial launch, they made changes to it as per the users’ feedback every six weeks.
“Today, using that approach, Chrome is the Number One browser in many countries. You may not have perfection in your product, but trust that your users will get back to you”, said Kallayil.
The ship and iterate principle matches with ‘analysis paralysis,’ discussed in the book, Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation, written by innovation thought leader Robert Brands.
The analysis paralysis points out that to run a successful company, you need to reason, carefully analyze and pay attention to every part of the product before release.
However, due to perfectionism, many leaders visit their products over and over again and end up losing out on the market opportunity.
Pro tip: Create a culture of innovation in your company where everyone has the freedom to fail and learn from failure.
The example of Google’s product development strategy shows us that products can fail. Yet you can reinvent them with proper customer feedback and by following the principles and values set initially.
Start creating ideal products by following Google’s product development strategy.
To guide your product development team and craft unique products, use product management tools like Chisel.