NordiCHI’18 – Key Note by Carly Gloge on Moonshot thinking at Google X and Pippi Longstocking Reflections

This week several members of the HTO group attended the NordiCHI 2018 conference in Olso, with the theme “revisiting the life cycle”. Here are some highlights from the first key note that we attended. In this key note Carly Gloge presented some work at company X which is Google’s “moonshot factory”. Their idea is to start with the really big problems first, and trying to solve them with innovation and technology. Some examples of innovations are self driving cars, here presented as reinventing the car driver.

This key note was really also addressing diversity as a success factor for the Moonshot factory, as well as being brave. Google X has really focused on diversity, and Carly Gloge says that this is one of the reasons why Google X has been so successful. A veryinteresting thing that came up related to this in the discussions section was the fact that Google is sued by Caucasian men that feel that they don’t have equal opportunities as other people at Google. They have ended up being accused of discrimination towards Caucasian men!

“If I would have known then what I know now, I would really have focused on diversity on my team in my previous jobs”.

Carly Gloge also presented their finding that psychological safety is at the core of successful teams. This finding is based on a Google investigation on successful teams where they ended up understanding that psychological safety was the only way to create a successful team, and not combining Type A personalities or “alpha males”.

They also very much focus on the growth mindset as a way of thinking, which means that you can always learn new things and that it is not innate to be an expert in something. This mindset is also mentioned as the “YET” mindset – I don’t know this yet and some in our HTO group has done some research on this mindset in computer science. This made us think of one of the famous quotes from Pippi Longstocking:

“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

― Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking

Carly Gloge tells us that the importance of diversity is also gaining traction in the asset management community, with large actors such as the US company Blackrock identifying diversity as a success factor that they include when creating their investment strategies.

Google has acquired a lot of companies, small and large, and Carly Gloge’s team is one composed of several such acquisitions. As with any acquisition this has its challenges, especially for a company aiming for radical solutions to the world’s problems. As Carly puts it, they frequently need to ask themselves “are we [our group/team] just a solution looking for a problem, or what are the problems we really would like to tackle?”

A suitable quote from Carly to start off this conference:
“If you obsess over your users, you can’t go wrong”

Åsa Cajander

Professor at Uppsala University
Åsa Cajander the research leader of the HTO research group. She is Professor of Computer Science with a Specialization Towards Human-Computer Interaction at Uppsala University.

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