Photo by thelastminute
Today, we all heard about Google shutting down its “Wave” program. As I saw the media and the web celebrating the fall of the new “giant we all love to hate” and posting things like: “I told you it will fail” I found myself thinking non-conformist thoughts and actually appreciating the move. The swiftness in which Google decided that this innovation did not work and the fact that they are not ashamed of trying new things and seeing how the market responds to them impressed me. More importantly, recognizing, quickly, that something is not working and shutting it down should is an act to be learned from (read Billion-Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years for examples of companies who did not know how to do that). I thought about writing a post about it, but smarter people than I beat me to it.
Karim R. Lakhani writes on HBR.org:
Some tech pundits were surprised that Google decided to shut down Wave yesterday just a year after its launch and chastised the company for its decision. But I’m not surprised and I applaud the company’s decision to pull the plug after it was clear the market wasn’t interested in Wave. From my vantage point as someone who studies innovation, Google’s decision was exactly the right move and provides some very important lessons for managing innovation in both small and large organizations.
I totally agree with Lakhani and the lessons he mentions (ad you should read his post). If I have something to add is that Google now faces one very important test that will be much less visible than the failure itself. The autopsy. Learning from the failure. I am quite sure that over the last couple of years many lessons, in many fields have accumulated in the process of developing, realizing and maintaining wave. Hell, just the decision to take it down is something that should be studied and analyzed to see what it means for future projects.
Time will tell what Google will learn. I will not be surprised if lessons from the wave “failure” will be incorporated into Google’s future products and strategy. And if that is the case, can we really call wave a failure? I don’t think so!