Last Updated Jul 6, 2011 8:10 AM EDT
That's a lot of change, not just in what the company is doing, but in how it's doing it. In fact, ever since Larry Page became CEO, there have been a lot of changes at Google and its lineup of products and services. Amazingly, Google finally shows signs of a coherent strategy. So why didn't this happen before?
Page must have been itching for control for years, because he's clearly had a long wish list of what he wanted to happen at the company. Here's just a sampling since January:
- Google killed off Google Health and Powermeter.
- Google also killed Wave, the collaboration product it launched with much fanfare.
- The company cranked up its solar power interests.
- More importantly, Google introduced Google+, one of the more coherent product ideas it's had in a while.
So now you say something
Google has been unfocused and sprawling for years, putting its hands into any number of pots just because it could. That produced a major, and continuing, distraction. How else do you explain a company having two separate operating systems -- Android and Chrome OS? Or cranking out a confusing number of products that started as experiments and then leaving them to thrash about and live or die without much support? It was bad management, pure and simple.
The question is, whose bad management? People often credit chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt with being a great and effective leader. And yet, it almost seemed as though Google succeeded in spite of its many strategic missteps.
When the original venture backers of Google pressured Page to step down in his first stint as CEO, maybe they made a significant mistake. After all, Schmidt failed to transform Novell as its CEO -- his job just prior to joining Google.
Will things get better fast enough?
Perhaps it was the triumvirate making decisions at the top -- with Schmidt, Page, and Sergey Brin ruling together -- that often made Google slow and ineffective. And no matter how he tried to pass them off as jokes, Schmidt's frequent references to himself as "adult supervision" for the two younger men was insensitive in public and suggested an unhealthy tension among them.
And yet, Page's reputation for failing in the human aspect of leadership was still in strong form during his drive-by earnings call performance. Coherent branding and turning social networking into a framework for search, blogs, photos, and many other Google services is important. But success will rely on the right touch with people as well as technology. And if he can't master that, Page's actions in focusing the activity of the company will go only so far.
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- Google+ -- a Sign Google Is Running Scared
- Google Heats Up Solar R&D To Diversify Business and Save Money
- The Price of Google Wallet's Smartphone Payment Dreams
- Google CEO Larry Page's Innovation: The Drive-By Earnings Call
- Google's New Organization: Not Everything Seems To Fit
- 3 Reasons Larry Page Needs a COO, and 1 Reason He Won't Get One