When i was attending Le Web in Paris in December 2009, i attended one of the Google sessions.
To the question “what is your roadmap”, the Google speaker answered:
“As you probably know
we do not use
any roadmaps anymore”
Just last week, i found this interesting blog from Don Dodge on how Google sets goals and measures success. Yep, that’s the same guy that wrote that article on Failure is not an Option, and that i reproduced and commented on my blog here.
Don knows what he talks about. Like me, he was at Microsoft, and if there is one thing that you learn at Microsoft is to work with numbers and living through the “rhythm of the business”. When i was there, you had in essence YEARLY planning sessions, complemented with mid-year reviews. It’s way more complex than that with lots of consultations back to the field, but for this moment remember one-year plan and mid-year reviews.
Some countries (Russia, China, etc) go through much longer planning cycles. Who does not remember the Russian 5-years plans and strategies ?
Some corporations still apply 5 year strategies, especially companies of a co-operative nature. 5-year plans with yearly operating plans.
Here comes Google: 90-days plans ! It’s not only about the timing, it’s also about the aggressively setting the objectives.
OKRs are Objectives and Key Results. I submitted my Q1 OKRs with what I thought were aggressive yet achievable goals. Not good enough. My manager explained that we needed to set stretch goals that seemed impossible to fully achieve. Hmmm…I said “This is just a 90 day window and we can predict with reasonable accuracy what is achievable. Why set unrealistic goals?” Because you can’t achieve amazing results by setting modest targets. We want amazing results.
We want to tackle the impossible.
Don is then adding some meat to the Failure is not an Option discussion.
“Taking great risks, pushing innovation, and striving to achieve the impossible will never happen at companies like that have a culture of FNAO”
Don has also some words on rewarding success at Google:
Financial rewards are significant, but they are not the primary motivator. Working with the best people in the world and achieving greatness is the ultimate reward.
At the next strategy meeting, ask yourself:
“do we have the very very best people on board to achieving greatness and innovation ?”
“do we have the very best people on our leadership and executive committees to celebrate experiment and innovation?”
A lot of companies have every day discussions and big statements that innovation is important and about how innovative we should become. A lot of it is theory.
The only reality check is when you actually “ship” something innovative.
Ask yourself: “What is the last time we shipped something innovative that added substantial NEW value to our customers?”
I have tried to input some “sharper” vocabulary like “radical” innovation vs. “incremental” innovation into numerous consultation rounds. Same about innovating in “the Core” and “Beyond the Core”.
It is surprising to see how through these consultation/review process all the sharpness gets deleted, to end up with something very grey. The “best” argument i have heard recently was “you bring too much new terminology into the company, you have to express your ideas in a language they understand”.
I am convinced leadership IS open for this new vocabulary. It just gets filtered out before it reaches them.
I am convinced that the age of consensus is over.
I have not given up, on the contrary. I am becoming more vocal, beyond the “resistance” that one has to play the blueprint, that one has to remain invisible and behave.
You need more polarized discussions, and dare to go for the ideas that cause this polarization.
Don’t go for the obvious, go for the impossible.
I was quite proud that in my recent 360° review my polarization was seen as something negative. It encourages me that i am on the right track.(see also Guy Kawasaki’s speech at Sibos 2009).
I have a strong opinion that you can NOT innovate without polarizing
I have a strong opinion that you have to bring in new young blood
I have a strong opinion that innovating also includes bringing a new culture of “celebrate failure and experiment”.
I have a strong opinion that we have to explore the edges of our natural eco-system
And that innovation comes with a new vocabulary.
Innovation is about agility. By making decisions fast. By planning 90 days ahead not 5 years. By daring to take risks and celebrate the experiment.
It’s about radical innovation. It’s about polarizing. It’s about strong language. It’s about kicking ass.
Innovation is about following your own daemon (or “genius” as Seth Godin calls it) and about breaking through the resistance of “behaving normally”