First thing I did this morning was hit the snooze button on my Google Android phone because I was up too late last night scanning and filing old papers with my Apple iPad. Now I’m typing away on my Macbook Air while my cat is passed out on top of my Chromebook next to me.
I don’t know what he was up too late doing, but really, he is passed out!
I’ve never slept on my Chromebook, but it’s an amazing little device for everything I use it for. Same goes for all my other devices.
I hold no “fan-boy” favorites when it comes to devices or companies; I simply buy the best. My favorite is the best. This is true every year and always has been. I’m deep into both ecosystems because both companies do great work!
Before you say, “Wow that’s really inefficient”, know I’m going to write you a post on how this works so well for me, but that’s not the point of this article.
The point is that because of my deep involvement with both companies, I have closely followed each and every one of their developments over the last many years. Every hardware announcement. Every software development. Even every rumor of something weird like Apple cars, or Chromebooks for cats, or… whatever…
I have learned that both companies have a very different working style, and I have grown to greatly respect and appreciate both. As silly as it sounds, this has lead me to evaluate myself and my work process as well as others around me.
Google Work Style vs Apple Work Style
So this won’t be anything surprising to anyone, but let me break it down for you how this typically works out:
If Google is working on something, and I mean, anything – software, hardware, and everything in between – you can bet that they are going to announce it and make the world aware of it. They are going to talk about it publicly, develop a whole team or division for it, begin developing and testing, and then roll out a version of it for public use.
This public product will be scrutinized in every-which-way. They’ll be both shamed for it and copied because of it, and most importantly to them, they’ll collect tons of data and continue to iterate on it… or trash it. They might trash it and let you know later.
But here’s where it gets really weird: Often, at the very same time, Google will be doing work, or releasing a product, that directly competes with something they’re already doing or a product they’ve already released!
You realize this? This examples are nearly endless over the years of the products and services that Google releases two versions of.
Most recently they rolled out Google Inbox, but they continue to update and use Gmail and it’s apps and interface as well. Same for TV streamers, wearable devices, operating systems, big tech, small tech, software, and on and on…
There are numerous other better examples though, and I’d urge you to read this article (Google’s Product Strategy: Make Two Of Everything) for a fascinating and eye opening look at some of them. They have devices and project you’ve never even heard of.
But why do they do this? Here’s the theory I agree with most (besides the fact that they have billions of dollars and so colonizing Mars to them is the same as you and I learning to garden):
No matter what new tech, new hardware, new software, new cause, or new product line of the future is, people will be rallied behind their version already and they’ll have a secure spot in the future.
By working this way, Google constantly guarantees themselves that they have a foot in the future. If you cast a sail or two in every direction, and don’t care what you waste, no matter which way the winds blow, you’ll keep chugging along with them.
Also, it increases their odds that they stumble onto something absolutely astounding that nobody even thought was the future.
One more important note on users: they have such a wide variety of services and products that most everyone on the planet is touched by them in some way. Then, with anything they can that’s even remotely successful, they offer most of it for free or crazy cheap for the common man, saving their big money making endeavors for the people who were going to spend money anyway because they have it to spend.
This guarantees a large user base or audience and a great deal of credibility and familiarity with enormous amounts of people. That’s important for future-proofing yourself or creating the future as well.
Now, Apple is a very different beast, but you already know that don’t you? Their process is quite a lot easier to grasp for most people, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to sum up:
Get the greatest minds and talents you can to watch society as close they can, work as hard as they can, and make the very best of whatever they decide is going to be the future.
Form and function… Design. Materials. Hardware. Software. …The best it can be!
Then, get the best legal agreements and co-operation, public relations, and marketing that you can to tell everyone that this is the future and it is the best, whether we like it or not, and whether it actually is or not.
Of course a crucial part to this last bit was and is to always keep the first bits under wraps. Be highly secretive and make it look like your genius future-shapers are mysteriously creating the next big thing that’s going to tilt the earth off it’s axis.
Then, with much ado, roll it out and tell everyone it does, indeed, actually reverse the earth’s spin or something marvelous, and that, yes, that just happened!
In this way, Apple also guarantees themselves a spot in the future because (1:) they actually do create awesome products and software because of their extreme slimmed down focus and drive on the few things they do, and (2:) we really do believe them when they say “this is the best in the world, until next year, when we change two things and make that the best!”
I believe part of why we believe them and follow their lead on the future is precisely because of their apparent streamlined focus.
Even if you’re one of the people that believes they do have secret Google-like labs in which they’re testing “Safaribooks for Cats” of their own, they give us the unique and distinct impression that they know exactly what they’re doing, when to do it, and why.
This is important. This appeals to us.
We admire the strong leadership. We envy the focus. We respect the drive. The clean, polished, put together persona that they embody is something most of us wish were true of ourselves.
See the difference?
If Google were to say, “This self driving Car is the future and the future is now!”, we’d all reply, “Well it’s pretty awesome, but you don’t even believe that fully. I heard you’re working on networked hot air balloons too! We’ll just take this slowly and see.”
But if Apple said, “These 18-karat golden cat chariots are the future – just install this A97 chip in your cat and they’ll even tell you the heartbeat of your team of cats just so you know how hard to drive them!”, we’d say “Here’s $17,000 dollars. No wait, $34k – I need two! One for my mom who’s allergic to cats… and gold… she’ll get over it!”
Because after all, Apple must know something that we don’t! I mean, it only make sense. Why else would they do this!?
Simple And Practical Application For You And Me:
Here’s how this might apply to you and me.
Google Work Style:
Work on as many things as your capacity can handle – or better, maybe just a bit more than it can.
A few things will become gradually more neglected until they wither and die. A few things will take off and get more and more of your attention and you’ll succeed in them.
It’s okay to get tired of things and move on. It’s okay to acquire things, plan things, say things, and then never use them or do them – at least you gave yourself the option. You’re list of ditched projects will be as long, if not longer, than any successes, but you’ll have tons of knowledge and people will enjoy your successes.
Always be learning about everything! Develop the widest range of skills and expertise in anything and everything that you possibly can. Undersell your competition and earn credibility and familiarity with as many people as possible. Blow people away with your work ethic, skills, ideas, and availability.
You will always have options for work this way. Always.
If you go super public with something, make sure it looks at least pretty decent, but don’t worry it aspects of it are horrible. Then continue to develop it on the fly as more people notice.
You’re striving for excellence, and some of your stuff will be excellent, but you’ll always have stuff that looks like complete crap and confuses people too. That’s okay. They’ll still be familiar with you, need you or want you, and you know it.
Besides, you’re naturally interested in many things, and you’re having fun anyway.
Apple Work Style:
Work on as few of things as possible, making sure they fit into your “stream” of focus and expertise.
Only develop a new focus or expertise if you must in order to stay relevant or do your current work better. Only begin a new project if your other work will benefit from it or if you know you can totally rock it. You’ll have a few failures, but your list of successes will be much larger and people will always know what those are.
Don’t talk about the work or display it to the world until it’s quite noteworthy and then talk about it and display it proudly! If you do talk about it early or display it early, do it only to gain more publicity or strategic partnerships.
Don’t grow your rolodex of names just to grow it. Only take on partners or work with or for people who are going to make the best and give you the best opportunities.
This way you are guaranteed to have work because people notice your level of excellence without question. They respect your slim, trim, and clarified flow, amazing work ethic, strong confidence, and your deep knowledge and leadership in certain key areas.
You’ll become an invaluable expert to those who can afford you, and you can charge a higher amount for what you do this way. Thus, you can also work on fewer things as well.
People may fear you and you won’t have a lot of friends, because you don’t allow yourself to be too spread out, but those who know of you will likely envy and respect you.
Besides, you’ll be relaxed and content either way, doing what you enjoy and do best.
So Which One Do You Most Emulate?
Just like both companies do, I occasionally have days where I break the mold and am more like the other. I also have days or weeks, even months sometimes, where I strongly want to be more like the other. I imagine this is true for most of us, just like it is for the companies themselves at times.
However, in an overarching sense, you and I are more like one than the other.
For myself, in an overarching look at the last five years of my life, I am without a doubt, the Google work style in pretty much every area of my life in every way. It’s worked really well for me, and it’s been fun. I went a bit overboard with it a year ago, and bout ran myself into the ground, but I’m honing in more and more now.
So how about you? Which is it for you?
Do you think it can / ever does change over time? Has it ever changed for you and why? I wanna hear other people’s thoughts on this… probably because my Googley self simply finds it interesting and I want more data… Ha! Please leave some comments.