10% time

Last week I listened for the third time to Marissa Mayer's amazing talk at Stanford about Google's culture of innovation. (I can't link to it right now. I'm blogging from my blackberry.) She lists the top 9 reasons that Google is innovative. One of them, of course, is that every Google engineer gets to work on their own pet project for 20% of the time. Marissa says that in the second half of 2005, 50% of the products Google introduced came from 20% time. Another was that "ideas come from everywhere," including customers, employees, senior management, and through acquisitions. Clearly Google folks are encouraged not only to have ideas but to share them and to pursue them. That is a very different culture from most companies I've ever seen, where few people are energized with new ideas, and those that have great ideas are often frustrated by politics or lack of resources to the point where they have no hope that their ideas will be heard or