Scheduling Innovation

Charlie Rose recently interviewed Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. Here’s part of that interview.
Charlie Rose:
“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?”

Eric Schmidt:
“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?

1 thought on “Scheduling Innovation”

  1. I found that interview really interesting too. But I missed that question, so thanks for summarizing the exchange so well and posing a great question.

    With 20% of my time freed up for innovation, I’d make myself take classes in something I’m not good at. I’ve tried this before with music and painting, and it really opened me up to think in new ways. There’s no pressure at trying to be great at something that I don’t have a natural talent for–I just experienced it for what it could teach me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s