Charlie Rose recently interviewed Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. Here’s part of that interview.
“You have this thing at Google where you can take a day off of each week or 20 percent of your time, say, out of 100 percent, five days, one day, and you can work on anything you want to. How much of that has led to interesting, productive profitable applications?”
“We think the 20 percent time is really the only way we’ve been able to maintain our innovation as we have gotten larger. What normally happens with technology companies is the initial founding team gets older, you bring in traditional management, and although it becomes a better managed company, much of the creativity and the flair and the joy did get lost in the process. By establishing the principal that engineers could spend 20 percent of their time working on whatever they found interesting, we created a culture where there’s this constant flow of innovation. Literally every day there’s another fun surprise. Now, before we get too excited about the 20 percent time, these are engineers. They don’t vary that far from their area of interest. But it gives them an opportunity.”
Imagine spending 20% of your time on innovation. What would you do? How would you spur your brain to think in new ways?