Steve Lacy recently posted critique on “The Google Way.” Even in my engineering positions, managers have tried to implement work ideas from Google, only to have them fail or make the work ethic, moral, or productivity worse. Additionally, many engineering shops maintain a mentality that kill innovation (the very thing that engineering is supposed to accomplish!). For example, Steve writes:
Google has a very, very strong NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome. Alternate solutions (Hadoop, MongoDB, Redis, Cassandra, MySQL, RabbitMQ, etc.) are all seen as technically inferior and poorly engineered systems. Google needs to get off it’s high horse, and look at what’s happening outside of it’s organization. Hugely scalable services like Twitter are built on almost entirely open source stack, and they’re doing it really efficiently. Open source solutions have a product-focus that’s missing from much of Google’s infrastructure for infrastructure’s sake engineering endeavors. Focusing on the product first, and using any available solution is the agile way to experiment in new spaces.
While his post is mainly focused on the software-side of development, it is still a fantastic read. For all you hardware junkies out there, focus on the theme of how large-scale development efforts and organizations hinder innovation and productivity. Many large organizations WANT to adopt the “startup mentality” but fail to see how. Steve has some great ideas here: http://slacy.com/blog/2011/03/what-larry-page-really-needs-to-do-to-return-google-to-its-startup-roots/