November 29, 2006
Greg Linden on Innovation
He reminds us that the flip side to innovating to get ahead (and stay ahead) is learning from, and shutting down, failures, but…even companies thick with innovative products are averse to following through:
If something does not work, the company needs to move on quickly. Failures need to be acknowledged, all possible learning extracted, and then the product should be eliminated.
This is not what happens. Instead, unsuccessful products are left up on the site to rot. Failed experiments become useless distractions, confusing customers who are trying to dig through the options to find what they need and frustrating any customer foolish enough to try them with the obvious lack of support.
He gives good examples from Google, Amazon, and Yahoo — big names in (web) innovation who, nevertheless, allow failed products and services to litter their navigation and soak up internal resources.
Even unsupported products still must be maintained operationally, security patches deployed and, to the extent they use shared libraries and APIs, evolved as the libraries and APIs evolve. Not to mention the customer support complaints from those sad individuals who stumple upon the unsupported product.