10% of top Google product features are broken every week. Result of Google culture - Roll out cool features, not focus on quality?
My saga on problems with GMail continue. Despite of the -ve feedback (”GMail is working fine“, “GMail is awesome‘, “Not sure why you are complaining GMail?” etc) to my posts, I continue to see the problems with GMail. I am not alone on the planet, lot of people are in the same boat(You can read the problems with GMail here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). The problems are frequent and particularly when they release new features. Some times I feel that Gmail is rushing to release the features without proper testing. May be they think that it is OK to roll out the features with bugs as it is in beta. Until now it was my guess only, but it turned out to be a fact. Sergey Solyanik who worked on GMail revealed some interesting facts on Google procuts and culture after leaving Google.
In the last year, and slick as it is, there’s just too much of it that is regularly broken. It seems like every week 10% of all the features are broken in one or the other browser. And it’s a different 10% every week - the old bugs are getting fixed, the new ones introduced. This across Blogger, Gmail, Google Docs, Maps, and more.
It seems Google culture is focused on introducing the cool features, not focusing on quality. Does Google think that since it is free for the user to use, quality does not matter? Well, it may be free to use, but Google is making money off of it by placing ads.
The culture part is very important here - you can spend more time fixing bugs, you can introduce processes to improve things, but it is very, very hard to change the culture. And the culture at Google values “coolness” tremendously, and the quality of service not as much. At least in the places where I worked.
Incidentally his journey from Microsoft to Google was not as good as he thought and took U turn back to Microsoft. Also he explained why Microsoft is better than Google to progress in the career.
The Google Manager is a very interesting phenomenon. On one hand, they usually have a LOT of people from different businesses reporting to them, and are perennially very busy.
On the other hand, in my year at Google, I could not figure out what was it they were doing. The better manager that I had collected feedback from my peers and gave it to me. There was no other (observable by me) impact on Google. The worse manager that I had did not do even that, so for me as a manager he was a complete no-op. I asked quite a few other engineers from senior to senior staff levels that had spent far more time at Google than I, and they didn’t know either. I am not making this up!
At Microsoft, the role of a manager is far more obvious. A dev lead is responsible for the success of the feature and the health of the feature team. A dev manager is responsible for the success of the product and the culture of the dev team. A PUM is responsible for the success of the business, and interoperation of the three teams that work on the product.
Isn’t it bad for a company like Google not focusing on the quality?
Update: Slashdot is also discussing this from a different prospective “Some Developers Leaving Google For Microsoft” and on:
Everything is pretty much run by [engineering] — PMs and testers are conspicuously absent from the process. Google as an organization is not geared — culturally — to delivering enterprise class reliability to its user applications.