Google: Experiment Quickly and Often

Google Thinks Small by Quentin Hardy, Forbes:

Brin and Page have created a corporate organism that tackles most big projects in small, tightly focused teams, setting them up in an instant and breaking them down weeks later without remorse. “Their view is that there is much greater progress if you have many small teams going out at once,” Schmidt says. The mission overall: to collect “all the world’s information” and make it accessible to everyone. “It’s a cause.”

Hundreds of projects go on at the same time. Most teams throw out new software in six weeks or less and look at how users respond hours later.

Google has advantages in making this work for them (it is easy to find reasons it won’t work elsewhere). However, this is basically piloting changes on a small scale, analyzing the results and doing that quickly and often. That quick, frequent experimentation is something organizations should strive to achieve.

The clear visible mission is also helpful. When an organization has an organizing principle everyone can understand then action can be guided by individual aim toward that purpose. When the understanding is missing organizations often have to rely on top down instruction and having far too many issues passed up the hierarchy for a decision.

And getting a small group of people to make things work quickly is also great. Many organizations get bogged down with byzantine management structures that slow action to a crawl.