Plussing: From Disney to Google

Walt Disney has been credited with coining the terms “plus it” and “plussing”. The gist of the story is that Walt would instruct his imagineers to “plus it” or take great ideas and improve them and to create value that might not directly translate into profit. In an article now lost in a dead link, John Torre wrote the following:

“Normally, the word “plus” is a conjunction, but not in Walt’s vocabulary. To Walt, “plus” was a verb—an action word—signifying the delivery of more than what his customers paid for or expected to receive.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of Walt “plussing” his products. He constantly challenged his artists and Imagineers to see what was possible, and then take it a step further…and then a step beyond that. Why did he go to the trouble of making everything better when “good enough” would have sufficed? Because for Walt, nothing less than the best was acceptable when it bore his name and reputation, and he did whatever it took to give his guests more value than they expected to receive for their dollar.

Google recently released a new social network, Google+ (Google Plus), and plussing seems to have been important to the company for more than just a name. Google has been working to improve social interaction through the features it includes in Google+. Bringing people together in an online environment that can foster more of the warmth of genuine friendships is a huge undertaking, but Google has its attention on the details that will make it work, as the mission statement for Google+ expresses:

Among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others. With a smile, a laugh, a whisper or a cheer, we connect with others every single day.

Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools.

In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.

We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests.

There is a lot of momentum building for Google+, and I hope that it moves forward and improves our lives. The introduction of Hangouts, Circles, Sparks and Huddles to the online social landscape may not seem especially groundbreaking, but the synergy and intention Google is working with is exciting.

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