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Google X Tells Us That It’s Important To Fail Quickly

May 31, 2015 - Written By Nick Terry

Normally when you set out on an endeavour the last thing you are thinking about is failure. You simply get to work and do whatever you can do to avoid failure, but Google seems to think about this a little differently. More specifically, Google’s Google X team thinks differently of failure. Google’s very own Astro Teller told Slash Gear that the Google X team essentially attempts to fail as quickly as possible.

When you first read that, it may sound a tad on the crazy side, but when you look into it a little bit it begins to make sense. Teller says that when the Google X team designs a new product the real question is this, “how and how fast can you discover that the thing you’re working on is the wrong thing to be working on.” He is of course alluding to products such as Google Glass. This is the type of experimental product that the Google X team would need to discover early on is going to crash and burn. The Google X team being able to see that a product is going to fail allows them avoid wasting the teams time and money on the wrong product. Teller says that discovering that you are going to fail early on is “the easiest time and the most efficient time to discover that you’re on the wrong path.”

While this isn’t a product of the Google X team, it is still a very good example of how all of the teams at Google embrace the idea of failing early. Some of you probably remember a service that Google released a while back by the name of Helpouts. The service had a great idea behind it, people offer their knowledge to other people via Google Hangouts for small fees. But, the service never really took off and ultimately fizzled out. It wasn’t even that long into the service’s life span when this happened and Google realized this almost immediately. So, Google sent out an email to all of the services users letting them know that the service would soon be shutting down. Doing this avoided Google wasting their time and money attempting to revive the obviously unpopular service.