Innovation Clinic

In a recent issue, Forbes held a valuable camp on innovation.

First, I agree with what Leonard Schleifer, CEO of Regeneron (a drug research company), had to say about innovation in his Entreprenuer Clinic in Forbes.

I believe that companies rot, and they rot from the top down. Too often the keys to the kingdom are given to commercial folks who don’t value long-term research. When you don’t value something, you don’t get good results from it, and the bottom line is that then, all of a sudden, the long term becomes the short term, and you don’t have anything.

“Focus” is a dirty word for us, okay? It’s a big mistake to think that you can pick the very best thing that you should focus on and then ignore all the other things. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could pick only the things that work in our business? Amgen’s new CEO, I heard, said they only were going to work on the things that work. Good luck to him. We are just not that smart.

Second, the short description of the article, The Secret to Unleashing Genius, says a lot:

Companies suffer when the boss comes up with all the new ideas. Shrewd leaders build organizations that think for themselves.

I’ve seen my share of executive teams where the long-term turned into the short-term and they didn’t have anything and where they were never willing to admit that they are just not that smart.

I think realizing that, is the key that the “shrewd leaders” understand and why they build organizations that think for themselves.

However, in depressing news, Forbes had this article where Google appears to be headed the other direction in what Larry Page described as “more wood behind fewer arrows”.

Google previously had a rule that you could spend up to 20% of your time on side projects. Now they are pulling that rule back a bit. The author of the piece asks a good question:

Now that Google has put some rules  around “20% time,” the one day a week an employee spends on side projects, people are having a field day forecasting the end of innovation at the company that claims to “use their powers for good, not evil.” To those people, I ask one question: Can a company in today’s highly competitive environment survive if they allow 1/5th of their employees’ time to be devoted to work that has no clear alignment with the company’s strategy?

Her answer: “of course not.”  I think there’s a better answer: Google’s stock price. Apparently it has been working for them, so far. In the words of Leonard Schleifer, ‘good luck to him.’

Update: Brian Carney and Isaac Getz agree with my take on Google’s rule change in the Wall Street Journal.

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Brainstorm

I knew Google Glass reminded me of something.

Not quite tapping into brainwaves yet, though.

I’m such a hopeless romantic

Here, I thought the Department of Justice didn’t take up an anti-trust case against Google’s online search prowess because the case doesn’t have merit.

After all, folks can choose to use any search they want with a couple clicks of the mouse. All, or most, search services are free to customer.

The fact that Google does such a disproportionate number of searches than competitors is more likely evidence that it delivers what searchers are searching for rather than strong-arming competition.

Alas…I should have known better.

The Wall Street Journal reported today (or perhaps opined) that Google’s $25 million of lobbying was money well spent to keep the government off its back.

Now, I won’t be surprised when politicians and government bureaucrats migrate to Google for plum jobs. Greasing skids is a growth industry.

Be careful what you wish for

Image representing Eric Schmidt as depicted in...

wtf?

Google Speaks Truth to Power, and op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal is worth a read.  Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google and big government supporter suddenly doesn’t seemed so pleased with big government.

Mr. Schmidt had just given his first congressional testimony. He was called before the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee to answer allegations that Google is a monopolist, a charge the Federal Trade Commission is also investigating.

“So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. OK? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer,” Mr. Schmidt told the Post. “It’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to . . . lower than free? You see what I’m saying?”

An absence of consumer harm didn’t stop senators from offering some improbable recommendations. Among them: that Google replace its algorithm with a panel of experts to ensure “fair” search results. As Google tries to improve the relevancy of its search results for consumers, some sites inevitably come up higher and some lower in the results. The losers now lobby Washington.

“Regulation prohibits real innovation, because the regulation essentially defines a path to follow,” Mr. Schmidt said. This “by definition has a bias to the current outcome, because it’s a path for the current outcome.”

Ebook Wars

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Google is set to launch an e-book venture.  That could put some wrinkles in my Print vs. Kindle value proposition analysis.

Advice for Google:  Figure out how to put ebooks on devices that do not have to be shut off and stowed during take off and landing in airplanes.

Advice for Kindle: You have a really cool device.  Open it up to Google.

Advice for whomever wishes to make some moneyApply Netflix’s subscription model to ebooks.