Google has just turned 10 (okay, it turned 10 yesterday, but well, close enough). I’m quite a big admirer of Google, for its innovation and culture especially.

Its still quite young for such a huge company. What made it successful? CNet News says is its ability to deal with failure. Which I think is really true. Above just the hardware failure which CNet reports on, I think what set Google apart is its innovative culture. And that culture could only have happened if they were willing to accept failure and dealt with it well – seeing it as a learning opportunity.

And that’s the first thing I want to highlight about Google, its innovation.

Google’s CIO Douglas Merrill tells us more about innovation at Google, and gives some tips about how businesses can apply innovation. It’s a really good video and despite its length, I think you should watch it. It really shows some of the “secrets” behind Google

I really love the 20% concept, where Google engineers are allowed to work on any project they want for 20% of their time at work. It’s a brilliant concept, and a lot of Google’s products have come out of it (Google News, Orkut and apparently GMail as well). I think it’d be interesting to have that concept applied to education, but that’s for another day.

If that video was too long, here’s a shorter talk by Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google’s founders). It’s less in depth, but still quite interesting.

The second thing I want to highlight is Google’s focus. They didn’t focus too much on marketing or having too much features. They just did what they set out to do. They took a risk by going against what other start ups would have done. I touched on this topic slightly in my previous post. Instead of playing it safe and just “doing their jobs” like most others would, they focused on creating the best possible product.

As Seth Godin tells us, they decided to go with “No ads, for example. No clutter. No popups, no tricky interpretations of privacy policies. Instead, every decision was, “If this is going to be the one and only choice, the best search engine in the world, what should we do?” The feeling was, if they built that, the money would take care of itself. And the investors who bought in were in on the game from the start.”

And that policy went beyond the search. They didn’t think about the “practicality” or the money issues. They did what others thought was ridiculous business-wise and succeeded. Could other companies like Hotmail have given 2gb of free email space? Probably. But it seemed unrealistic and impractical. Google took that risk and left the others in its dust.

Finally, the third thing about Google is passion and fun. They’ve built a culture where the people love going to work. Where they love what they are doing. And that is very powerful.

Innovation and focus. The willingness to do what others think is unreasonable (in a good way, of course). And above all that, passion and fun. It’s a wonderful combination that’s brought Google great success.

And its only 10 years old. I can’t imagine what’s to come.