Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fruitful melding of advanced theory and technology

I like this sentence, and think it is conveys meaning.  From  Google Spanner's Most Surprising Revelation: NoSQL Is Out And NewSQL Is In

Only Google solved the problems in a typically Googlish way, through the fruitful melding of advanced theory and technology.
That statement does a good job of capturing Google's strength and weakness.  I think Google is not very good at solutions that are not the combination of those two items (with a bit of an engineering mindset focused on maximum economic benefit thrown in).  It seems to me Google wants an "unbiased" measure of performance and uses profit in that way (this is my view as an outsider).

Google has continued to struggle greatly with customer focus, as I see it.  It might be we need to get much better academic research on the value of customer care before Google will be able to adopt strategies consistent with valuing customer service - more than the throw away way they general do now.

Research fits Google's theory and technology focus.  Once it can be arguably be measured in the marketplace I think Google gets uncomfortable.  They plug away, but it seems like they are out of their natural element in this situation - until it is easy to find market measures of value.  Some things immediately go from research to production.  Some things have to be developed quite a bit - I think Google gets uncomfortable in this space, they want to hurry up and let the market tell them: and not have to rely on judgement of people doing the work.

Google's appreciation for theory is shared by leading thinkers at the most innovative organization of the last 100 years (Bell Labs etc.) but in most organizations MBA's hold sway and MBA's (in general) don't have a clue about the value of theory.  

I think the MBA's failure to understand the value of theory is largely is due to the failure of basic scientific literacy in our society.  Which then leads to people confusing theory in a scientific context and theory in a I have this odd ball idea I thought up in the shower last night that I call a "theory."  Disrespecting the 2nd kind of theory is fine.  When you can't understand the difference between a well supported theory and ignorant pontification that is a big problem.

Related: Richard Feynman Explains the PDSA Cycle - The Illusion of Knowledge - Bogus Theories, Bad for Business

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