Thursday, November 3, 2011

Google's mistake demonstrates why they rule

I've always admired Google's approach to business and how they communicate. They're straightforward, simple and honest. And as a result, I've often referred to their style when counseling my clients on how to internally address business "issues" they're faced with.

Too often the client is hesitant to transparently communicate about whatever the problem is. Heck, they almost never want to use the word "problem", it's always an "issue". Yet I've always argued that straightforward, honest messaging is not only appreciated, but that it will actually gain you credibility. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in Google's recent response to the buggy Gmail app they released - and subsequently pulled - for Apple's iOS 5.

A simple search online will easily get you the background on what actually happened, but suffice to say they made a new Gmail app available on Apple's newest operating system, and it had serious problems. After pulling the app, they tweeted the following explanation:

How great is that for an explanation?

Even better, I read this CNN article and frankly got a little defensive on Google's behalf. The comments from so-called "experts" imply that Google is on the brink of total failure and has lost all confidence from users. Then I read the comments attached to the article, and I was reassured that all is not yet wrong with the world. Here are just a few so illustrate my point:
btaylor328 said:
oh yea, reminds me of glass houses and stones. it's easy to throw the stones. like apple hasn't sent out mistakes, like MS hasn't sent out mistakes, like many, many companies haven't sent out mistakes. there isn't a tech company that hasn't launched a product that hasn't had mistakes, it's how you handle the error that should be praised or criticized. 
"Sorry we messed up." Accountability....that is what its all about. 2 thumbs up from this guy.
Houstondoc said:
Actually I like this.  They made a mistake and came right out and said it and are working to fix the problem.  This is better than apple did with Antenagate and now Betterygate.
Not only is Google getting praise for their honesty, but their competition is actually getting CRITICIZED.

I'd love to see more business leaders learn from this type of transparency. Especially in today's day and age, where employees are so sensitive to corporate-speak and, quite frankly, bullshit. To me this proves how people appreciate honesty, and will actually reward you for it with their respect and support.

I can only hope this type of courage leaks into the internal corporate space, if only just a little. It will be a rare but refreshing change.