Lessons in Creative Output from Eric Schmidt

How Google Works from Eric Schmidt

This deck by Google Executive Chairman Eric Smith has been making the rounds. Success has a way of drawing attention to itself, and few would deny that Google is a top business, and one of the three best global brands# to boot.

It is then worth keeping a few of the ideas front and center:

  • know the competition, don't follow it — so many organizations get stuck on this point; in other words, keeping an eye on what others are doing should come second to keeping an eye on how your company is closing the gap between the promises it makes and those it keeps
  • creating an environment where people thrive — this is easier said than done; for one as John Cleese taught us with the profound insights on creativity: most people who have absolutely no idea of what they are doing have absolutely no idea that they have no idea of what they are doing, and because of the next point
  • demonstrating that everyone is heard — is the number one challenge especially when the criterion for best answer is often opinion (see slide 38)
  • communicating is as important as decision-making — indeed in situations of rapid change it is critical; one observation from years of working with teams in all kinds of settings is that "open" should be a characteristic encouraged beyond top down, which goes to support the next point
  • allow innovation — in many organizations this requires both letting people pick themselves and recognizing the efforts already under way; some of them will probably require many iterations to get where they need to be, and prototypes take many forms
  • imagine the unimaginable — when ideas could be from anywhere and may be things not done before, how do you evaluate them? When do you pull the plug and when do you push forward instead?

Because it comes from the subconscious, creativity requires that you focus long enough on the problem. Given a limited amount of resources and time, this means we need to become smarter and learn to identify the right problems to work on — at least directionally. Which is why finding the sweet spot in experience between technical competence, business savvy, and creativity matters a great deal.

Technology is transforming every business sector, a premise we can all agree on, I suspect. In this environment, power has shifted to consumers who do vote with their ratings and reviews and with their wallets. Organizations should learn to maximize freedom and speed to work on both — making their products better and making their audiences, users, customers rock.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.