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Sam Davidson's blog

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When In Doubt, Do Something

The most recent issue of Fast Company celebrates Google as the world's most innovative company. Inside are scads of interviews with folks who work there, each telling their tale not only about why it's a great place to work, but how it was recognized as being a place of creativity and ingenuity.

Of particular interest to me was the reasoning on David Glazer, an engineering director. He comments:

We started running a bunch of experiments. We set an operational tempo: When in doubt, do something. If you have two paths and you're not sure which is right, take the fastest path. What's true in physics about motion is true when you're creating a product. It's easier to keep moving and change course than when you're sitting and thinking and thinking.

No wonder Google's stock price soars and its functions continue to get better. No wonder it could very well soon take over the world.

When you have a lot of talented people and allow them to unleash those talents in order to create anything, you’ll be surprised at what happens. And you'll ride this big wave of creative momentum all the way to the bank.

If you're losing talented workers, if you can't connect with a younger set, if it seems like your competition is bypassing you by leaps and bounds, look at your innovation policy.

Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want. Such a policy means that brilliant products and ideas stay in-house. Even though folks leave Google to start their own company, many stay put and are handsomely rewarded for their creative outbursts.

Many folks leave awful jobs in order to have the freedom to simply do what they're good at. It's a shame that so few workplaces provide talented people with the appropriate freedom and resources to stretch themselves and the company's own idea of what is possible.

I can't help but wonder in woeful agony how many great ideas are simply dying in people's minds because the higher ups or the current processes in place at any given business are ones that embody the opposite idea from the one that Glazer champions.

Ask around. If your place of work has a "When in doubt, sit on your hands, stay put and shut up" policy, then chances are, they'll very soon be having a Chapter 11 policy.