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2 of 3 Work Smarter Google Processes You May Want to Implement

August 10, 2009

Almost a year ago McKinsey Quarterly did an interview with Google CEO
Eric Schmidt and in it are three great suggestions on developing a culture
of innovation we would all be well advised to consider.

The 2nd suggestions that emerged in the conversation is the idea that
Innovation is something that comes when you’re not under the gun.”

Eric talks about that in terms of the Google 20% time process,  a process
where staff  devote “20 percent of their work time” to special projects of
their own design.

It’s represented as a core component of Google’s efforts (and success) at
systematially developing innovation.   Actually this a remake of an
approach 3M is famous for in their efforts to facilitate innovation.

It’s a challenging move isn’t it?  Most businesses I work with would feel
like they couldn’t afford to do it.  That sounds like quite a loop, “I can’t
afford to be innovative, because we’re not making enough money…
because we aren’t innovative enough.”

I got a chuckle out of Eric confiding that he has no balance, e.g. no
20% time, and communicated that this was just reality for senior execs.
So does that mean they aren’t actively supported in being innovative?
Aren’t depended on to be innovative like the direct reports alloted the
20% time underneath them?  Interesting.

What gets even more interesting to me, is that most companies we work
with wouldn’t support an allotment of 20% of a workers’ time to be devoted
to innovation… but get this, they do support 20% of the time being devoted
to getting things done that are not innovative, such as managing email,
social media, and even a larger percentage of time devoted to attending
meetings, especially as one moves up the organization.

Bottom Line:

Google is extending the 3M practice of allotting people 20% of their
time to work on innovation projects (or catch up) to futher innovation
across the organization.  This stands in contrast to most organizations
that don’t allow any set % of time to work on independently innovation
projects, but do support personnel to allocate a significant % of time
(more than 50% in some organizations) sitting in lengthy meetings,
and more than 20% of the time attending to email.  Looks like we’ve
got communication heavily favored over innovation.

BTW we have a meeting management product that has been verified to reduce
meeting time by 50%.

Link – see Meetings as a Form of Collaboration




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