Quite possibly, the best thing Google did for Google+ had nothing to do with Google+. It was the Google Chrome Web Store, and its trove of browser extensions. (While browser apps have been around since IE5 in 1999, and plenty of grease monkeys have been customizing their web experience for years,) the Chrome web store has finally made it easy for browser extensions to go mainstream.
Then enter Google+. Millions of people beg for an invite, get in, and then wish that the G+ interface was just a little bit different. Rather than submit the ideas to Google, they simply build their own browser extensions and problem solved.They didn’t have to wait for Google to make the improvement, and don’t even care if they do. Google on the other hand gets to see working examples of how Google+ could be better. This is hundreds of times more valuable than an idea that had to be reduced to writing and submitted via a Google spreadsheet form.
Fortunately, this user-innovation isn’t only limited to Chrome, Kynetx has made it easy for anyone to build browser extensions that can be installed on Chrome, IE, Firefox as well as on mobile devices. See (apps.kynetx.com) This opens the door for users to make the web work how they think it should work. Smart companies are monitoring these apps and using them to improve their digital products.
Who works for you?
But not all of us are in the tech space. What can we do to make it easy for our customers, employees, or anyone who cares, for that matter, to innovate for us? Beyond obvious things, like listening and responding to what people are saying on social channels; here are a few questions that can help you assess how open you are to innovation:
How open is your digital real estate? Are you too strict in moderating what is allowed on “your” spaces?
Do you communicate challenges, or problems you’re trying to tackle as a company? Or do you keep them locked down internally in a “need to know” vault?
How easy is it for your stakeholders to share their ideas with you? Are your processes so complex that they indirectly prohibit contributions, collaboration and innovation?
When ideas are contributed, who gets to see them, are they publicly accessible, or do they go to an internal overstuffed email box? How can outsiders collaborate if they can’t see others’ ideas?
Can others build on your products without violating your terms and conditions? Can they customize what you offer? Can they share that customization with others?
So often I hear people say that they are “open for suggestions.” But are they really “open?”
-As a bonus, a few of my favorite G+ add-ons are listed below.
G+ to Facebook Share by SocialPhreak
GoogleMinus by: 40win.com
Google Plus Comment Toggle by Phil Windley
And Plus One Anything by Scott Adie
While they’re not for Google+ I can’t help but mention
Bleep Tweets and Craigslist Inliner both by Mike Grace
Jonathan Wilson shared his app with me G+ Fixed Position Notification Bar I added it, and I love it!
Got another great extension? Add it to the comments!