You only get so many bites at the apple

Google dumps Google Wave, an interesting product whose failure illustrates a few of the place’s weaknesses:

  • Building stuff out of the digital equivalent of particle board. Wave was a decent idea executed in a slapdash way. The one time a friend and I tried to use it to collaborate on something, it was so painfully buggy and slow that we gave up after 10 minutes.
  • Believing that what you need must be what everybody needs. The most intuitive use for the thing was…whiteboarding ideas in a corporate environment! Big surprise that this failed to catch on with the 5+ billion people who don’t have to think about synergy all day.
  • Treating principles like “fail fast” as mantras rather than guides. Sure, there are opportunity costs to staying invested in any product. But too often, I think, Google closes the door on ideas that it rushed through too quickly to fully explore and understand. This (combined with the usual corporate bootlicking) results in crazy groupthink on future projects when everyone falls all over themselves to say “we can’t do that, it’s too close to Failed Product X, which was a miserable failure” while not fully comprehending what  went wrong. This in turn heightens the stakes for future endeavors because you know that an overall failure could well make successful components of your project/product radioactive.
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