At Search Engine Watch, Danny Sullivan posted a greatest hits list of Google failures to celebrate, including Dodgeball, Print Ads and Answers.
Sullivan notes that Schmidt’s celebrating didn’t come through in Google’s public statements about folded products.
Google’s a company that’s not afraid to take risks and does seem to embrace the idea that along the way, there will be failures. Maybe that’s “celebrating” those failures. But in its statements to the world, Google rarely sounds like it’s celebrating these missteps. It doesn’t really document anything that was learned. It just seems to say as little as possible to move on.
He also listed a few cases where Google made lemonade, eventually turning a failed product into a success.
Schmidt and Steve Ballmer will have plenty to talk about someday in the retirement home for billionaires. Here’s Ballmer on the same topic in 2004:
The biggest mistakes we’ve ever made as a company on the innovation front is when we abandon something that we started before everybody else in the market, we gave up on it and it got popular when somebody else went and worked on it. Our worst mistakes are not showing that kind of patience and persistence on the innovation and responsiveness boundary.
And I don’t care whether it’s you as a CEO thinking through the issues of your customers, or frankly some of the IT folks. If you’re an IT folk, then you’re supposed to also be pushing your company to try new ways to use technology. And sometimes you’re going to get it wrong and you have to be able to listen, take that feedback, refine and make sure that the fundamental, core concept you’re working on can really be applied in the right way.