Google Product Management and Innovation

I met Will Price when he was at Hummer Winblad.  Will and the HW team were helpful in broadening our internal development strategies around emerging enterprise on-demand / SaaS / Enterprise 2.0 applications.  Will is now CEO of Widgetbox and continues to write thoughtful posts at

In his recent post, Will summarizes key points from an interview with Jonathan Rosenberg, Google SVP Product Marketing and Management held at the Think Tomorrow Private Company and Venture Capital Summit.   Rosenberg offers key insights to the changes in the Product Management and Development model at Google:

“First, the market moved extremely quickly and the product cycles needed to match the market’s velocity. Second, the pace of change made requirements analysis challenging and a traditional product development process ripe for failure, and finally the needs of the market were tacit, not overt, and engineers were often best suited to understand the technology/user need base case and find the implementation and feature set that best met that tacit need. The business stack ranked problems and priorities and let engineers solve the problem – a respect and appreciation for the ability of engineers to find elegant answers to the business need permeates the company

Given change is a constant, Google also focused on hiring generalists. Hiring for a discrete need often failed as the need would change to another priority the day after the specialist started. Finally, he found he needed to free himself from the baggage of his training and open his mind to new approaches – where management becomes a vehicle for encouraging collaboration of very bright people rather than prescribing discrete tasks.
Finally, he argued as the market changes winners and losers emerge (i.e. features) – Google feeds the winners and culls the losers quickly and works to let the users guide them as to what deserves funding and resource.”


  1. Hi Bruce, I caught Will’s piece as well, and had more than a passing interest in what he had to say. But here is a “small company spin” on it. Where there is rapid, and unpredictable change in the environment, (market) scoping of the addressable task becomes even more important, i.e. the market and knowledge domains are changing so fast that the “product-market fit” is pretty difficult to maintain. This means the touch points of the entire team with the environment have to be fairly fluid, nuanced, and “unsupervised” if you know what I mean. So the point: Product Management is really really important for small companies and the expertise and resources available for same.

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