NSW Education LIVE – Mel Silva

This page is a transcript of the video NSW Education LIVE with Mel Silva.

Duration – 10:30

Managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, Mel Silva shares how she thinks about innovation.


Mel Silva

Hi there, everyone! My name is Mel Silva, and I'm the managing director for Google Australia and New Zealand. Thank you so much for having me as part of your live stream. It's super exciting to be here.

Before I kick off, I do want to just acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which I'm in today – the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

I really just wanted to talk about how great it has been to connect with all of you in the past. The last time we caught up, was for the Game Changer Challenge. And we saw some incredible innovative thinking from students all across NSW. Now, one of the winners of that which was Alstonville Public, actually came up with an idea that was all about humanizing technology. And it was called Enbud and was basically a way to have a friend in the virtual world. And just fast forward a couple of months and look at how relevant that idea is today.

I mean, one of the things we're all going through right now is, having to be away from our friends and our family. My poor daughter Ruby had her birthday last week and had to have a virtual birthday cake and, well we tried our best to make her happy, there was a little bit of sadness there. So, if any of you are feeling a little bit sad that you haven't seen your friends, try and think about how you can get inspired from the team at Enbud.

And even what we're doing now, find ways that you can connect with people, your family and your friends using some technology because it really can help make these sort of challenging times a little bit easier. It's actually been something that we're seeing all across Google. Is the way that people are using things like Google Classroom and Google Meet, to catch up and just connect with one another which is so important when we have to think about social distancing and what's best for all of us right (mumbles) All of the world at this time. So, before I start my lesson on innovation, I thought we would do a fun quiz, so, teachers, kids, get ready. What I want you to do, is put your hands on your head with these answers and we'll see how well you go. Let's get started.

First question. True or false? Google Docs turned five years old in September. Now, if you think this is true, put your hands on your head. If you think it's false, cross your arms. Okay, is everyone got their answer? Well, it's actually false. So for those of you who did cross their arms, you're all the winners of that question. It was actually Google Classroom that turned five in September. And I know a lot of you all use that.

Now our next question is, Larry Page, who was one of the founders of Google who invented Google, built a working printer, all out of Lego. True or false? Hands on your head if you think is true, cross your arms if you think it's false. Well, if you've got your hands on your head, then you are right. He actually did build an inkjet printer out of Lego. So, if you got some Lego at home why don't you try and give it a go.

Okay, one last question. True or false? Google has nine products that are used by more than billion people around the world. If it's true, put your hands on head, if it's false, cross your arms. Okay, well the answer is that's true. All of these products, Gmail, Chrome, Maps, Google Search, YouTube, Google Play and Android and newly Google Photos, and Drive, all have more than billion users. So congratulations to all of you if you got that question correct.

So, let's now talk about how we can think about innovation and particularly how Google thinks about innovation. Because there are actually a couple of principles that we all stick by at Google and after more than years of inventing some of the world's most innovative products, we've learned a few things about how innovation can work. And so I wanted to share three of these principles with you today. And as you start thinking about how you might create new things, or even just how you might do things differently, these are some principles that we really hope will help you.

First of all, innovation does not mean necessarily inventing something that's completely new. It might mean just making something a little bit better. And that's really what sits behind the first principle which is innovation is not being perfect, straight away. So, when you think about it, when you start creating something, if you start with what a user might want or what your particular audience might want, you might not always get it completely right. And so having these principles around how you can invent something, look at how it works and continuously get some feedback to make it better, is a really, really important principle of innovation. And you probably have this in your classrooms every single day. You might submit a piece of work or create a piece of art. And someone will give you feedback. And that will really give you some insight into how to make it a little bit better. And over time, all of that innovation and all of that iteration continues to make it better. But the fundamental part of that is feedback and being open to feedback.

Now, right behind me, you can see an artwork that my son did. Now he went to the museum, he saw this piece of art, and he thought he was gonna iterate it, and make it even better. So, what was a Campbell's piece of soup by Andy Warhol, became a Silva's not Silva, can of kangaroo tail soup. Now, that's a really great example of some of iterating something to make it more beneficial to us as a family and as the user. Now, the next one is really about sharing everything you can. Now, the fact is, innovation and good ideas can come from anywhere. And at Google, we've got a couple of things that we do to help make sure that we are sourcing ideas from as many people as possible.

So, when you think about it, how do you create time and space in your day, to think about new ideas? At Google, we've got an idea called % time. And this is something which now I notice a lot of our team members to take % of their time, so one day a week, to think and work on something that might be really, really different. Now, you might not know this, but Gmail, Google's email, was actually invented by someone in their % time. And it's important that you have the space and the freedom to share those ideas when you have them. So, when you think about that invention of Gmail, they would go away, and there think, "I think I could make Gmail a little bit better? I think I could make an email like Gmail that's a little bit better." You have to give yourself the time and the space, and you have to have an environment where people actually either say, "Yeah, maybe you could work on something that would make it a bit better." Where these things can actually come to life. So, a simple way that you can do that, is to carve out some time, where you do let yourself think about new ideas, and that you share those ideas with other people. So it's really important part of how we drive innovation at Google.

The most important thing though, which I'm going to finish off today, is around having a healthy disregard for the impossible. Now, that might sound like a really, really big thing. But, if you take a really small idea, and you just try to make it a little bit better, that's great and that's innovation too. But sometimes you want to think about how you can make things times better. And having that disregard for the impossible, not thinking that things are impossible. In fact, getting rid of that word in your vocabulary altogether, is actually one of the best things that you can do to free up and think about how you can change things from innovation point of view. Now, Google Maps is something that we use all the time. Like it might be hard to remember a time when you didn't have Google Maps. And the people that invented Google Maps, who actually were in Sydney, had to start with something that was absolutely impossible at the time. How would we map the entire world in a digital way, so that people can use it? And if you think about the way that people are using Google Maps today, it really, really has changed the way that people interact with maps. You guys might not even no this, we used to have big books that would sit in our cars, that were actually made of paper. Then you had to flip through, to know how to get from Sydney to Canberra, and it would be pages, and you would be sitting in the back and turning it upside down. And now we have this amazing maps technology, when you find, will actually do it all in the palm of your hand.

So, thank you everyone. I hope you've enjoyed my lesson on innovation as much as I've enjoyed sharing it with you. I know it's been a huge adjustment for everyone adapting in this current crisis and I'm so excited to see how people are being adaptive and being really creative in problem solving. I've seen this from so many of Aussies over the last couple of weeks I really encourage you all to keep trying to learn from these experiences and finally as an Aussie and as a mom, I just wanted to say a huge heartfelt thank you to all of the teachers and childcare workers who continue to support learning for all our Aussie students and particularly those in NSW. So, thank you to everyone and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. See you later.

End of transcript.

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