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Inside Google Creative Labs – quick updates from a studio visit

from http://loususi.posterous.com/whitewash-and-art-protest-nyc-outdoor-creativ

Hello, Wild Pack,
I’ve spent a couple of hours this morning at Google Creative Labs for a special talk & tour called “Making Good Things Happen That Matter.” The event is arranged by the organizers of The 99% Conference, which launches later today.

Google’s changed our brains (according to some thinkers also reviewed in The Guardian) and our habits. iGoogle feeds us blog headlines each morning. Google has become for some of us the go-to reference librarian, travel agent, daily organizer, conference organizer, and more. And possibly you’ve read about Google’s 20% policy. For those of you who don’t know, Google execs insist that Google employees spend 20% of their time experimenting on their own projects. You got that? 10 hours of a 40-hour work week devoted to your own projects. That policy exemplifies the level of trust and autonomy that Dan Pink convincingly lays out in Drive as, according to 50 years of social psychology, key aspects of what motivate us human beings.

Now, I’m not naive. The organization has its run of pitfalls. Still, I was eager to goggle into the heart and wonder that fuels the world that has altered our world. How do these digital heroes work together? What values drive them? How do they keep seeing the matrix of 1 and 0 fresh? What reality-check questions make them pause?

First, highlights from the tour of only one floor.
* 2000 Google employees in NYC alone mostly in a 1932 redesigned Port Authority building (Google just bought the 30 million square-ft bldg)
* A $50 budget to each employee to “Pimp Your Cube” (i.e., make it your own quirky space)
* A worker zooms by on a foot scooter and stops to play at the LEGO arena
* The well-insulated game room is often occupied by Guitar Heroes and karaoke stars (Ji Lee loves karaoke)

Presentation highlights:
* A formula for success: little guy + champion = awesome shit
* The story of how one new employee’s playful sketch of a co-worker as an android prompted a ripple of events that led to the launch of Androidify – Google’s most successful application with 1 million-plus downloads the first week
* Stories from a former YouTube exec. on how Google/YouTube launched their most successful YouTube events from ideas by “little guys” – including YouTube Symphony Orchestra, YouTube Play at the Gugenheim, and a Day in the Life (a film produced by Ridley Scott to come out July 24)

* Democratize your ideas. Engage “the people.” Have people magnify the mania and become your evangelists. The user is your marketer.
* Get credibility. Partner with the right people (and finesse how you sell your idea to them).
* Challenge conventions. Question how things should be done (e.g., YouTube and the Guggenheim??)
* We don’t do marketing. We solve problems.”
* Know the user. Know the magic. Connect the two. What’s the emotion behind the idea?

That’s all for now. A series of speaker events coming soon. Stay posted here and on Twitter.

See you in the woods,

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  1. Hey Jeffrey,
    This is great stuff! It’s helping me think about my own small-business’ Open House and general coming out to the public. Keep it coming!

    PS Love the bio.

  2. Right on! I think some of those take-aways could help you re-imagine what your Open House could offer. How could you do “Open House” differently? That’s the sort of questioning Googlers seem to engage in regularly.