Let’s Talk

Thank you, you're submission has been received.

There was a problem submitting your request.

What are your primary business content and marketing goals?

Tell us more

Let’s Collaborate

Built for Innovation: How Google’s Office of the CTO is Redefining Collaboration

Play episode

The biggest innovations don’t always occur where you expect. Canon and Nikon didn’t invent the go-everywhere camera known as GoPro. It was a surfer who wanted to film his friends. Automakers didn’t believe styling could attract buyers to Electric Vehicles until Tesla defined the industry. The reality is that insights can occur anywhere, and come from anyone, and Will Grannis, Managing Director of Google’s CTO Office, knows that.

“The more ambitious [the problem], the more ambiguous, the more complex, the better. In my experience, if you’re going to try to transform an industry, it’s hard. And it takes a long time and a lot of new technology. It takes years of discovery of trying things, of finding what works and amplifying that and this whole consideration of people, process and technology. And so in the CTO office, one of our goals is to work on the most ambitious projects that our customers have.”

Find the most ambitious projects with an eye toward redefining an industry, that’s the mission of Google’s Office of the CTO and it’s one that Will takes seriously. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Will describes how his office works with some of the most prominent companies to help build better customer experiences. He also discusses how holistic team building can be a recipe for innovation and why disruption across industries can happen anywhere. Enjoy.

Main Takeaways

  • Transaction, Approved: It’s important for businesses to provide collaborative teams to big clients to solve business problems free of charge. When clients feel as if they have a support group to lean on, not only are you providing a valuable customer experience, but you can also potentially solve problems for other clients that might be experiencing the same challenges.
  • Are you Actually Listening to Me?: It sounds simple, but when you’re approaching any relationship with a client, the number one thing consultancy teams need to do is listen to the issues at hand. This includes talking to multiple stakeholders within the business and not just the leadership group within the department you are solving for. 
  • All in This Together: Your teams should never have a niche focus, but instead focus your team building on having a wide breadth of knowledge with varying degrees of experience across multiple backgrounds. When you build holistic teams, you have a better chance of being able to provide insights to multiple clients across multiple industries.  

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


Article 

The biggest innovations don’t always occur where you expect. Canon and Nikon didn’t invent the go-everywhere camera known as GoPro. It was a surfer who wanted to film his friends. Automakers didn’t believe styling could attract buyers to Electric Vehicles until Tesla defined the industry. The reality is that insights can occur anywhere, and come from anyone, and Will Grannis, Managing Director of Google’s CTO Office, knows that.

“The more ambitious [problem], the more ambiguous, the more complex, the better,” Grannis said. “In my experience, if you’re going to try to transform an industry, it’s hard. And it takes a long time and a lot of new technology. It takes years of discovery of trying things, of finding what works and amplifying that and this whole consideration of people, process and technology. And so in the CTO office, one of our goals is to work on the most ambitious projects that our customers have.”

Find the most ambitious projects with an eye toward redefining an industry, that’s the mission of Google’s Office of the CTO and it’s one that Will takes seriously. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Will describes how his office works with some of the most prominent companies to help build better customer experiences. He also discusses how holistic team building can be a recipe for innovation and why disruption across industries can happen anywhere.

Formed in 2015, the Office of the CTO is a group of handpicked CTOs from various industries — including media, enterprise tech, industrial and public sector — whose mission is to foster collaborative innovation between Google and its biggest customers.

“Our sole mission is to help organizations like Shopify, use collaboration technologies better so that they can serve their own shop,” Grannis said. “Someone like Ford who wants to make your car super connected and an awesome digital experience, a group like ours gets to work with them hand-in-hand in those journeys, across every industry and every use case you can imagine. So it’s actually a real privilege for me and the team.”

The goal for Google is simple; prevent customers from hiring outside consultancy firms and instead provide those power users with direct access to a group of professionals with a wide breadth of experience that can look at any topic objectively. 

“This is not a transactional issue,” Grannis said. “It starts with a business problem and because we’re an engineering team and because we’re a strategic investment team that our CEO puts forward for those customers, we’re not focused on a deal. We’re not focused on making a product sale. We’re focused on solving these really ambitious problems that these customers have.” 

According to Grannis, the more ambitious and ambiguous the problem is, the better. But the reality, solving for undefined subjects can be challenging, which is why his team approaches every client meeting the same.

“We listen, and I cannot stress this enough, we listen because the faint signals are out there,” he said. “Having worked in Fortune 500 companies, a couple of times over, being an entrepreneur and investor, a lot of my role as an advisor, it’s amazing how often we forget to listen.”

Listening may sound simple, but Grannis stressed the importance of not overthinking the problem you’re trying to solve, which is that his team deploys a method of listening to all stakeholders, even if they are not involved in the department you’re working with.

“You never know where insight is going to come from,” Grannis said. “It’s really hard to predict where the insights will come from, where the focus can come from — maybe it’s a non-IT non-technical team that is into this collaborative innovation space and they had this insight around the most useful thing we might be able to do would be to just reduce the friction in online checkout.”

To hear more about how Google is collaborating with its power-users and how the Office of the CTO is driving collaborative innovation, make sure to check out the full episode of IT Visionaries!


To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

Episode 292