In an interview with Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path, Irene Au, Director of User Experience at Google, talks about her background, the way Google as a company works and innovates, and what she thinks is important to be able to ship great products:
I think it?s really important to be very pragmatic about what you?re building, and how quickly you?re building [it]. There?s a balance [that must be struck when pursuing] something that?s really perfect. When you?re innovating very rapidly, sometimes you just don?t even know how things will be used and what [they?ll] be used for. So sometimes it?s just important to get it out there. Being able to adapt to the conditions and the environment?that was kind of a survival skill that I had to learn.
There are so many things that are so fascinating about Google. The way this company is designed, the whole organization is completely inverted. There?s incredible empowerment in all levels of the company. A lot of start-ups, they start out flat, but then as they grow as companies, they become more hierarchical and more silo-ed. Google has done an amazing job of avoiding that. So the company still operates in a very flat way. People are very much empowered, and there?s a lot of freedom and flexibility to explore and pursue your passions. If you really believe in something, you can absolutely go make things happen. That [makes it] very easy to build things.
I think a company’s setup and design process are vital for the resulting design quality.When companies start giving engineers and designers freedom and power to innovate, trusting them rather than controlling their every move, and handing over responsibility for complete tasks, people will be motivated to create truly great products.