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Google Glass InnovationEssay

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¶ … Business: Google Glass

Design for Business: Analysis of Google Glass

Google's rapid dominance of online search, contextual advertising, mobile operating system and application development initially created a polyglot of visual languages, design guidelines and paradigms. Products looked, operated and interacted inconsistently with each other, a strategic weakness that Larry Page quickly addressed when he was appointed CEO in January, 2011 (Google Investor Relations. 2014). An initial project to unify all design, development and user experience standards into a single, cohesive platform, code named Kanna, had failed (Hamburger, 2014). Undaunted by that failure, Larry Page made consistency of design guidelines, visual languages and the development of cohesive, company-wide design frameworks and direction his top priority. Called Project Kennedy, Mr. Page quickly initiated a company-wide redesign of all Google products and services to a common standard, which was particularly challenging when the variations in Apple iOS vs. Google Android mobile operating systems were taken into account (Hamburger, 2014). Larry Page also chose to seek outside design expertise and created the Google Creative Lab (Google Investor Relations. 2014). During the company-wide redesign, the Google Creative Lab would prove to be instrumental in providing expertise and alleviating potential areas of design debate.

The three critical success factors that led to Project Kennedy's success include the following. First, executive sponsorship of this corporate-wide redesign program was essential for it to succeed. Google's cultural fabric is designed to flex for innovation yet be strong and scalable enough to support rapid, unconventional and often nonconformist ideas (Iyer, Davenport, 2008). This attribute of the Google culture, tightly interwoven deliberately by senior managements' support of innovation (Klie, 2010) is critically important for the success of any strategic, widely defined design initiative. Project Kennedy succeeded because Larry Page provided a transformational vision of how Google would be more agile and responsive to users, while also delivering an excellent user experience (Hamburger, 2014). Project Kanna most likely failed because it took a more compartmentalized view of the design process and the project leaders failed to define a compelling vision for how all of Google could benefit from the major effort a company-wide redesign initiative is. The first critical success factor of Google's success with Project Kennedy was the transformational leadership and clear vision Larry Page provided, which mobilized departments to work together and make the vision a reality. He infused ownership into the company to improve by doing all this. The second critical success factor was the level of collaboration that was attained during the Project Kennedy attained internally. This was particularly relevant given how different the challenges are for designing Google Maps for the Apple iOS vs. Google Android operating systems is (Hamburger, 2014). Both teams succeeded by having open, frequent discussions of how to best manage variations in how each operating system responded to Google programming commands for maps, for example. The third critical success factor was the ability of the diverse team of designers, developers and programmers to arrive at a consistent, corporate-wide visual language (Hamburger, 2014). Once this was achieved, redesign efforts accelerated as all development teams had a common foundation to work from and debates over direction where most likely minimized or eliminated altogether.

The Innovation Approaches Used To Create Google Glass

Google's reliance on a variety of innovation approaches, strategies and techniques is exemplified in how Google Glass was initially defined, developed and launched. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google's founders, successfully created a culture where fast iteration of concepts is commonplace (Silliker, 2013) and where the freedom to explore new concepts and devote one day a week just to exploration of new ideas (Called the Rule of 20%) is encouraged (Iyer, Davenport, 2008). By combining a hybrid or mix of innovation theories, Google is attempting to make acuity of new product focus, speed of development and excellent user experience process-centric differentiators that become inherently part of every application created or product produced (Google Investor Relations. 2014).

The hybrid of innovation theories that are evident in Google's approach first with Project Kennedy and most recently with Google Glass. The guiding principle of all Google innovation is solidly based on the foundation of user-centered design (Iyer, Davenport, 2008). This attribute is a core part of the Google cultural fabric, as evidenced by the interviews with the senior designers for Google Maps, G-Mail and other applications highlighted in a recent documentary on Project Kennedy (Hamburger, 2014). The foundations of user-centered design are predicated on the combining of four dominant theories of innovation. These include user-driven innovation, user-centered innovation, user-generated innovation and design-driven innovation. All four theories have been extensively discussed in our course, and based on insights gained, it is clear how Google has been able to orchestrate them to achieve their specific development and time-to-market needs (Klie, 2010). The redesign of Google Maps for the Apple iOS operating system and the development and launch of Google Glass each show how effectively Google is at orchestrating these four innovation theories into successful results. User-driven innovation of mobilizing, streamlining and simplifying the use of wearable technology is evident in the Google Glass design. Capitalizing on the benefits of this theory, Google also brought a more accurate, trustworthy experience to the iOS platform for maps than Apple had created on their own (Google Investor Relations. 2014). Successful use of the user-driven innovation theory is also evident in how quickly and with great acuity the lead industrial designer Isabelle Olsson defined the design objectives for Google Glass (Pallister, 2014). Her three major design goals align with user-driven innovation theories, and include lightness, simplicity and scalability (Google I/O Developer's Conference, 2013). The user-centered innovation theoretical aspects of Google Glass are exemplified in voice activation, pervasive use of large-scale integrated circuits, and a relentless pursuit to drop the weight of the device while engraining in greater and greater computing power. The theoretical constructs of user-generated innovation and design-driven innovation are also evident in Google Glass as well. Applying the theoretical concepts of user-generated innovation, Google deliberately staffed the development team with non-technologists who brought a pragmatic, practical perspective to the product and weren't enamored purely with its technology (Pallister, 2014). Orchestrating this specific theory into the overall development approach was critically important to ensure Google Glass was congruent with the perspective and preferences with the broader general public, not just a narrow group of technologies alone. In listening to the team discuss the development process at the 2013 Google I/O Developers' Conference, it's clear that the orchestration of strategies that capitalized on the best these four theories had to offer was a priority of Steve Lee, product director (Google I/O Developer's Conference, 2013).

Evident from the analysis of the innovation theories successfully used in the creation of Google Glass is also the observation that the Interactive Model of innovation is used as a stabilizing framework. It was observed that this is essential for all other theories in use to be effectively managed across the product development processes and strategies of the entire company (Cho, 2009). The Google Glass development program also shows a strong foundation of holistic or systemic thinking about how to enhance and add value to the user's visual experience, as exemplified by the discussions during the Google Developer's Conference (Google I/O Developer's Conference, 2013). Holistic or systemic thinking is what differentiates the industrial designers from the software and hardware engineers at Google as well. Another observation is that by taking a hybrid approach to using the most relevant aspect of innovation theories, Google is also enabling its engineers and design professionals to attain a level of autonomy, mastery and purpose, the foundational elements of long-term motivation (Leavy, 2012), into their jobs, further strengthening the innovation process. Unifying all of these elements together is a unique, very open level of communication and collaboration across the various teams who worked on Google Glass.

The Google Glass New Product Development Process

Google's new product development process is predicated on having smaller, faster-moving teams of highly qualified professionals collaborate with one another vs. relying on large-scale teams that are common in software development today (Steiber, Alange, 2013). Google chooses to do this for several reasons. First, it allows for greater agility and responsiveness in managing to their innovation frameworks. Second, Google has found smaller teams are more effective at translating the theoretical value of user-driven innovation, user-centered innovation, user-generated innovation and design-driven innovation into practice (Iyer, Davenport, 2008). Third, smaller teams have a multiplier effect in terms of making the benefits of exploration, iteration, experimentation, abductive reasoning, human-centered design and holistic or systematic thinking deliver results during the new product development process. Fourth, taking this approach to team formation and goal definition to align with the interactive model of innovation ensures the highest level of collaboration and communication possible (Silliker, 2013). All of these elements taken together are the catalysts of the innovation framework at Google.

Having smaller, faster-moving development teams vs. competitors is considered one of the main competitive advantages Google has, as the senior management teams often speak of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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