Collaboration and Innovation

Jeff Dean, a software engineer at Google and responsible for programs that made Google successful and much of the Web possible, attributes his success to collaboration.

The thing to keep in mind, he says, is that his real accomplishments are almost always the product of collaboration.

Almost every morning, he comes into work at the GooglePlex in Mountain View, Calif., and sits down for coffee with the same core group of people. “We’ve made 20,000 cappuccinos together” over the years, he estimates. These people don’t all work together. In fact, as Google has grown, some have moved to different buildings on opposite sides of the campus. But when they get together to dish about what they’re doing, their problems spark ideas in one another, Dean says. These coffee talks are what has enabled Dean to put his expertise in optimization, parallelization, and software infrastructure to work on such a wide array of projects. That and healthy doses of ambition and confidence.