Co-Founder and CEO of ZestFinance.com; Google's Former Chief Information Officer
Douglas Merrill brings to his keynotes a rich real-world perspective on innovation as strategy, as culture, while delivering an overview of how new technologies have changed the way we live and work. As the former CIO and VP of Engineering at Google, he oversaw a team of 1,500, as well as all aspects of technology, and several high profile projects, one of which, Google Checkout, is now a multi-billion dollar business. Informed, passionate and brilliantly counter-intuitive, Merrill now helps companies around the world learn how to build their own sustainable cultures of innovation.
Merrill has also served as COO of New Music at EMI Group, and as VP of Infrastructure and HR Strategy at Charles Schwab. In academia, he was an Information Scientist at the RAND Corporation. He holds a Ph.D. in cognitive science from Princeton and is the author of Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff Out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right.
Big Data Demystified: What's Important, What's Not, and What's Next
Everything you think you know about big data is probably false. Technology can mindlessly capture thousands of data points—anything you can think of—but without a good understanding of what’s important, and what’s simply noise, big data ends up as a barrier, and not a road map. Enter Douglas Merrill. He knows data. He has done research for the US government on large scale data analysis and visualization. He was the CIO at Google, the best big data shop in the world, and he’s Founder & CEO of ZestFinance, the industry-leading big data underwriting firm. This peerless experience positions Merrill as one of the leading voices in big data, and allows him to make hard concepts simple to understand. In a lively talk, free of jargon, he shows you how to approach big data and make it work. His straight-forward talk features real people, relevant examples, and very smart companies making well-informed decisions. Big data is about science and intuition, Merrill says, emphasizing the human element while simultaneously focusing on rigor and analysis. After a bold primer that outlines early victories, common mistakes, and new paths to growth and innovation, Merrill suggests a new approach to data-driven decisions: have people from radically different backgrounds on your data teams, add more “signals” (data you can draw conclusions from) to your analysis, and, most importantly, use your data to solve real world problems, instead of crunching numbers for numbers sake. Enthralling, important, and immediately applicable, Merrill's big talk on big data is perfect for any organization that wants to make smarter choices now.
Innovate or Die: Building a Culture of Strategy and Innovation
Douglas Merrill provides a rare look into how Google fosters its renowned culture of innovation. In a fast-paced talk, he contrasts Google's strengths with those of other companies that are struggling to stay relevant. The best companies know that innovation is a process you can learn and implement. Merrill lays out a blueprint for innovation as strategy, as culture. How do you foster ideas in their infancy? What corporate structures drive innovations, and which ones get in the way? And how do you recognize the innovation that's already happening in your organization? Innovation, he shows us, is already happening at your organization, at every organization. But the mediocre companies kill it unwittingly. Having championed innovation at Google, Merrill demonstrates, with striking clarity, how to design a different kind of company-- one where culture, strategy and innovation are interrelated and drive massive, sustainable growth.
The Innovators Opportunity: Building the Business of the Future
You're at a successful company. You make a great product, and people are buying it. Congratulations. But do you know where your next successful product comes from? Most companies don't. Some companies are counting on their current product growing indefinitely. In fact, the whole notion of focusing on your "core" and ignoring "context" assumes that your core will grow indefinitely. However, most companies face the Innovator's Dilemma: How do we build a new product in an already successful company? Innovation and product development in these companies requires structural change, new kinds of employees, incentive shifts, and management fortitude. But, if a company gets it right, it can capture the Innovator's Opportunity: Building a new product in the safety of a stable company. Building on research from RAND, consulting to the world's largest companies in the US and internationally, his experience at Google, and lessons from his own start-ups, Merrill describes proven methods for creating the Innovator's Opportunity.
Google vs. EMI: The Innovation Gap
Douglas Merrill went from the ecstasy of Google to the agony of EMI-- and, in this talk, he shares everything he learned about the two wildly different cultures, and what each says about innovation. When EMI Group's New Music Department wanted to take on Apple, it hired Merrill as its COO. Despite having great talent, deep pockets, and innovative ideas, EMI ultimately lost the digital music war. Why? Merrill explains that, though Google and EMI were equally innovative, it was Google who had a culture of experimentation and implementation--and that's the real difference. Innovation isn't a panacea; it's only one part of a more comprehensive process. In this ambitious and enthralling talk, Merrill articulates why culture and strategy are what transform innovative ideas into revolutionary products.
"All the feedback we received was tremendous. Douglas brought a well prepared, dynamic speech and a great sense of humor to the day. It was evident that he had spent time learning what our background and business was about – he did a great job of integrating that into his thoughtful comments."
Getting Organized in the Google Era
Whether it's a faulty memory, a tendency to multitask, or difficulty managing our time, every one of us has limitations conspiring to keep us from being organized. But, as organizational guru and former Google CIO Douglas C. Merrill points out, it isn't our fault. Our brains simply aren't designed to deal with the pressures and competing demands on our attention in today's fast-paced, information-saturated, digital world. What's more, he says, many of the ways in which our society is structured are outdated, imposing additional chaos that makes us feel stressed, scattered, and disorganized. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Luckily, we have a myriad of amazing new digital tools and technologies at our fingertips to help us manage the strains on our brains and on our lives; the trick is knowing when and how to use them. This is why Merrill, who helped spearhead Google's effort to "organize the world's information," offers a wealth of tips and strategies for how to use these new tools to become more organized, efficient, and successful than ever.
But if you're looking for traditional, rigid, one-size-fits-all strategies for organization, this isn't the book for you. Instead, Merrill draws on his intimate knowledge of how the brain works to help us develop fresh, innovative, and flexible systems of organization tailored to our individual goals, constraints, and lifestyles. From how to harness the amazing power of search, to how to get the most out of cloud computing, to techniques for filtering through the enormous avalanche of information that assaults us at every turn, to tips for minimizing distractions and better integrating work and life, Getting Organized in the Google Era is chock-full of practical, invaluable, and often counterintuitive advice for anyone who wants to be more organized and productive-- and less stressed--in our 21st-century world.
Big day at SXSW tomorrow: Ben Wizner & Lavin speaker Christopher Soghoian in a virtual conversation w/ Edward Snowden.about 2 days ago
- Business Strategy Heather Payne at 99U: The Importance of Creative Side Projects [VIDEO]
- Science How to Grow a Bone Without a Body: Nina Tandon's New TED Video
- Exclusives Shaping Discourse: Five Lavin Speakers Named to "100 Global Thought Leaders"
- Big Data Live at Lavin: Douglas Stephens on Big Data's Retail Revolution [VIDEOS]