Google To Change Product Development Steps; Means Major Changes To “20% Time”

Google looks to users’ needs from the Australian IT reports that Google’s Stuart Smith, their new strategic planning director of Google’s Creative Lab in New York, is seeking to change how Google develops its products. Instead of Googler’s developing things they personally find useful, Google seems like they may change that process to see what audiences really want.

Says Stuart Smith: “What typically happens is it is just a load of engineers producing a load of things and then refining until it finds an audience.” What Smith wants to see is for Google “to look at audiences and understand audiences and say ‘perhaps there is a need over here — let’s meet that need’.” In short, it seems to me that Google wants to change its product development philosophy, which is famous for coming up with ideas like Google Reader, Gmail, AdSense and tons of other popular products. Yes, these mostly came from Google’s “twenty-percent time.”

If Google now decides to research what people outside of Google want and then make their employees fill those needs, wouldn’t that do away with the 20% time? Or will Google continue to allow their employees to use the 20% time to do what they want and add this in as an additional layer? As Smith said, “particularly going into a recession, it is going to be very interesting because we are going to have to justify our actions.”

Is this the beginning of the end to Google’s philosophy and culture, or am I just being paranoid?

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Business Issues | Google: Employees


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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