Google’s corporate culture – Creative tension : The internet giant seeks new ways to foster innovation

Few companies are as creative as Google, which serves up innovations almost as fast as its popular search-engine serves up results. This week the firm unveiled a new version of its Chrome web browser and launched Fast Flip, which lets users scroll through the contents of an online newspaper in much the same way that they leaf through its pages in print. On September 30th the company will roll out another fledgling product, Google Wave, for a test involving some 100,000 people. Billed as a revolutionary way to collaborate online, Wave is also the product of a new, more structured approach to innovation within the company.For years Google has had a fairly informal product-development system. Ideas percolated upwards from Googlers without any formal process for senior managers to review them. Teams working on innovative stuff were generally kept small. Such a system worked fairly well while Google was in its infancy. But now that it is a giant with 20,000 employees, the firm risks stifling potential money-spinners with a burgeoning bureaucracy.

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