CNNMoney.com ran an article on Google titled “Chaos by design” on Wednesday. It’s a pretty good read for a couple of reasons:
1- Shows that Google, while loved by many, hasn’t had a string of product successes (beyond google.com) that we all seem to attribute to it. Don’t get me wrong, GMail, Google Maps & Picasa make life easier, but their success pales in comparison to their search products.
2- The focus on ‘controlled’ chaos is interesting because it encourages the approach of “trying things out to see if they will work”. While reading the article, I was thinking: “I wish IBM was more like this; you know, willing to let things get a little chaotic here and there.” But then I realized that in its small ways, IBM is doing just that (as are other companies I’m sure).
Kicking off the Eclipse Project or acquiring Gluecode are but two examples of IBM’s attempts with controlled chaos. IBM’s InnovationJam is definitely another example. For those of you that don’t know, InnovationJam is basically a very-loosely structured online message board collaboration held over a week or so, with IBM employees over the world. This year, they expanded the participation to partners, customers and family of IBMers. The collaboration is intended to unearth ideas for IBM to pursue. It’s like a big hairy “suggestions box” (well, if the suggestion box allowed everyone else to critique and build on ideas and actually write the business plans for the ideas). This IBM announced that $100 million in development funding would be available to help see the best ideas come to market. The ideas that will get funded aren’t selected on profitability alone. They’re using measures like benefits to society & people in emerging countries. Quite cool.
Maybe more of this type of thinking will permeate into IBM’s corporate culture.