Getting it right

Being a loser is not a permanent state. (Photo by Michal Zacharzewski, from

By Anthony O. Alcantara

What I love about Google is that it has no fear of getting it wrong. Of the hundreds of products and services it has produced in a little more than a decade, only a handful are making money.

But boy, do they generate money. Billions and billions of dollars to fill the coffers of founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Google is a fearless loser. The company is a loser because a lot of its products failed. And guess what? They loved being a loser. That’s because in the process of losing, they learned, and they eventually came up with winning products.

In a recent talk on “The Future of Communication and Collaboration,” Johan Segergren, Google’s GM for Thailand and the Philippines, revealed that employees at Google thrive on failure.

He said a lot of ideas float around Google. Naturally, many of them died. While most companies are bereft of new ideas and cling to what works, Google encourages people to come up with new ideas.

As you may know, Google still has the 20 percent rule, where employees, using 20 percent of their time at the office, experiment with their own projects and ideas. Google News was developed this way.

“It’s not the ideas,” said Segergren. “It’s the ability to execute.”

In other words, having a lot of ideas is only part of the answer to having great success. It’s having a lot of ideas that you actually execute.

And execution in Google, according to Segergren, is getting the right people to help and cooperate , finding tons of data to support the idea, and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Google+, which is fast becoming a success, would not have been possible without the failures of Orkut and Buzz. Bradley Horowitz, Google’s VP for products, has got it right this time.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was once quoted as saying, “Please fail very quickly–so that you can try again.”

I guess it’s a good idea to be a failure after all. It’s good to not get it right. That way we learn. We soon discover what works.

Only by getting it wrong, will we soon get it right. Take it from a prolific loser like Google.



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