Mental notes on Innovation from our visit to the Google Campus

Mental notes on Innovation from our visit to the Google Campus

This post is apart of our Silicon Valley Experience blog series where we will highlight the articles written by members of our group who participated in our #SVExperience17 trip. This article was originally published here.


Exciting week ahead here in Silicon Valley! I promised to bring some Silicon Valley attitude with me back to Finland, so I thought I would share some moments from yesterday’s inspirational Google campus visit. With a market cap of $ 650 mrd, Alphabet is one of the global top 3 and had the largest absolute increase in market cap between 2009–17, but still it has succeeded in keeping a strong entrepreneurial, both creativity and productivity, culture mindset.

It looks like Google has diverse business from Waymo, self-driving cars, to YouTube and voice search, but everything it does, is geared towards one main financial goal: driving more people to their search engine. They are very disciplined in tracking metrics and on internal bench-marking, Google generates approximately 98% of its massive billions in cloud revenue from selling ad space.

As much as Google’s headquarters brims with on-site benefits, like yoga rooms, cut-rate haircuts and free chef-prepared food, the true formula behind it’s success lies in the intangible: an entrepreneurial culture, that is the paragon for every company across all industries.

But what’s the secret? Surely there are many reasons behind it, but here are some mental notes on innovation principles that Google shared with us:

1# Innovation comes from anywhere

2# Focus on the User

Don’t care about revenue, focus on the user and the revenue follows.

Acquiring a new customer always costs more than keeping an existing customer. Keep the customer churn rate low.

3# Think 10X

Aim to be ten times better. If you want radical and revolutionary innovation, think 10 times improvement, and that will force you to think outside the box.

you need to have a radical solution

you need to have a breakthrough technology

what is the biggest problem you are going to solve

4# Bet on technical insights

Every organization has unique insights, and if you bet on it, it leads to major innovation. Google engineers, not the auto industry, came up with the idea of driverless cars after seeing that millions of traffic deaths come from human error.

5# Launch and iterate: keep everything completely open

Ship your products often and early, and do not wait for perfection.

6# 20% time

Google wants every employer to do 20% time out of their core role on what they are passionate about.

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin highlighted the idea in their 2004 IPO letter: “We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”

7# Default to open

If you need help, people are doing it for you. Either you can hire the smartest people in the world to be on payroll or you can ask help to open hack the intelligent. However, developers are not always looking or the problems how users are doing it. Make your processes open to all users. Tap into the collective energy of the user base to obtain great ideas.

8# Fail well

There should be no stigma attached to failure. If you do not fail often, you are not trying hard enough. In Google, under performing people are not laid off. No, people are moving to other teams as assets.

9# Have a mission that matters

Have a very unique story, create an environment where every person has a strong sense of mission and purpose.

– Päivi Kangasmäki

CEO & Founder of BackedbyCFO (CFO As A Service from seed to IPO, with a great passion to help CEO’s with cashflow and metrics). Boardman2020 board member and VIP member.