How A Team With Diverse Skill Sets Makes Google X More Productive

The Google X minds behind Project Loon may come from different backgrounds, but they’re speaking the same language.

When they’re thinking as big as balloon-powered Internet access for the world’s disconnected, the Project Loon team has to be as diverse as possible–while still speaking the same language.


Cooking up prototypes in the Design Kitchen, the project’s designers and engineers are tasked with launching balloons to the edge of space, to bring the world’s information to remote places or help reconnect after natural disasters.

The project is a dance of nature and futuristic technology, and the team’s backgrounds cover as much expertise as possible. Take, for example, Google X User Experience Researcher Mac Smith, specializing in human factors of psychology in engineering, and Senior Designer Mitch Heinrich, coming from industrial design and mechanical engineering.

“While we have very different expertise, we speak a common language,” says Heinrich. “We can both understand what each other means when we say, ‘What’s the use-case here? What’s the ultimate customer need look like?'”

Rather than slow them down in translation, diversity with shared goals makes their work more efficient, Smith says–whether they’re looking at their objectives from the tops of houses or the stratosphere.

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