Google’s approach to an innovative flexible shell combines agile or scrum with a master chef in a well-equipped kitchen. A recent visit to Google to allowed me to take a preview on how they organise their innovative flexible shell. I admit, the master chef was a bit of a surprise.

Aiming to take decision making power from the board to the person with the best idea, and to support him to develop this idea. Ideas are cheap, but with a lot of work may be turned into precious diamonds. An idea is sharpened and improved through prototyping, with each prototype taking the idea another step towards becoming a precious diamond. Prototyping starts with gathering a small team around an idea. A stimulating environment helps, and Google provides it.

One of the most famous stimulating environments is¬†Archimedes’ bathtub. While stepping into the bath, he saw that the water level rose, whereupon he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. Archimedes had his ‘Eureka!’ moment, thanks to a relaxing and stimulating environment.

Why Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google’s founders) have not adopted this supreme environment at Google can only be guessed at. Fear of men in swimming trousers, the ill compatibility of the then IT equipment with water, or simply not not wanting to turn the Google office into a giant tub are only the first reasons that spring to mind. However, they have adopted something that I would call a second-best alternative.

The Google founders apparently learned that many of their creative teams were formed in kitchen-like environments. A very true statement of course Рeverybody knows you spend ever less time in your office when catering improves. Google took this to another level by hiring master chefs and ensuring a micro kitchen is always just around the corner. Indeed, the spontaneous formation of small enthusiastic teams flourishes in this professional and stimulating environment. Once Google introduced GSuite: Work anywhere Рalso in the kitchen, these teams even become productive turning ideas into ever-improving prototypes.

At this moment, Google has a unique perspective on the balance between kitchen and office space, that believed to be a key contributor to its’ success. At this moment, Google is the only company to feature seven ‘prototypes’ that by now have gathered over a billion users. (Facebook is the eighth product with so many users).

This article is part of a series on the Google Innovation Cycle.