Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People

googleearthFast Company’s annual list touting the “100 Most Creative People in Business” is really a misnomer. Each selection notes a project or idea that helped elevate the person to inclusion on the list. I’ve yet to see one person single handedly create, develop, and implement any project or design. It’s a team.

I’m certainly not trying to diminish any of the 100 included, I just have a soft spot for the unsung heroes. Daniel Graf, Director of Google Maps for Mobile is #5 on the list and acknowledges that tapping into his team’s creative energy is what catapulted Google Maps to the number one position on iTunes.

The Google Maps application was a staple on iPhones since it launched. Last year, Apple announced Google Maps was being replaced by an Apple map app. Thanks to Graf and his team, that decision was the best thing that ever happened to Google. (Close to the best).

In the Fast Company article, Graf talks about the importance of ongoing dialogue. “While I had no experience with maps, I’ve always been focused on creating simple experiences,” he says. It was that goal that led Graf to consistently go to his creative team.

“We had design reviews every single day, down to the pixel. Everyone in the room, from the product team to the design team, would discuss features. At first you might think, What a waste of time. But that hour a day is the reason why, when you read the reviews and use it yourself, the product seems so polished.”

The redesign proved brilliant. It gave Google the ability to include more local ads and earn more revenue. Within hours of its release in December of last year at the iTunes store, it was number one.

Says Graf in the Fast Company story, “Three years ago, Google wouldn’t have done products like this.”

Integration and collaboration between in-house teams made the difference, and took Apple by surprise in the process.

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