Or, Why Google keeps killing products
IME people often don’t realize that product strategies are actually way more important and influential than company strategies. Simply because it’s the products that have an impact on people’s lives, not the company. And this is not only true for users and customers, and society — it’s also true for the people who contribute to the creation and introduction of products which is basically everyone in the company. It’s the products we work on and use that connect us, not the company. It’s the products that are “strong centers” (Christopher Alexander) of our thinking and action, not the company.
Having a VC-like approach to your product porftolio is no company strategy - it's a certain method to create products but no standin for an overarching strategy.
I would argue, if Google had such a astrategy, they could have succeeded with Google+. The strategy would have justified to leverage existing products instead of letting Google+ fight for itself without much support.
I enjoyed the comparison of Microsoft and Google in this article. I'm curious, if you were VP of Product at Google, how would you ensure that more consideration is given to product strategy?
Resonated with this line - I care about product strategy because the world would be a better place if people spend less time on failed projects and more time working on things that make a difference.
I worked at Google till 2016, and I'd say that Google doesn't have any kind of strategy. If the premise in your article is right, we'd see several huge successes of the scale necessary to move the needle for Google, and we haven't: https://kartick.substack.com/p/which-tech-giants-have-stopped-innovating . Google is just a giant bureaucracy sans strategy.
I also disagree about 20%, at least in my experience: they're officially allowed but managers exert influence, such as by saying "This is an important project you've been given, and I want you to do a great job at it over the next two quarters, after which we can discuss the 20% project." Or "I know you've proven yourself in earlier teams, but you haven't in my team, so you need to do that first". Or "Sure, you can do a 20% project in any team under our director" which is not a 20% project. 20% is more marketing than reality.