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High productivity requirements eliminate 20% time according to sources

Google has always been famous for its employee perks. From childcare to naps to gourmet meals, many other companies have tried to copy Google's perks in an effort to lure in and retain employees. One of Google's most interesting perks is what the company called 20% time.

20% time allowed employees to take a single day each week to work on side projects. Google's 20% time sparked some of the company's biggest innovations including its huge moneymaker AdSense, Gmail, Google Talk, and Google News. While Google hasn’t officially killed 20% time, it has made changes that have all but eliminated 20% time from the Google culture.

Quartz reports that Google has effectively shut down 20% time by requiring that all engineers get approval from management to use 20% time to work on independent projects. Previously, 20% time was the right of everyone who worked at Google. Taking that a step further, upper management at Google has reportedly discouraged managers from approving any 20% projects at all.

Those managers are judged on team productivity, which is measured by an internal analytics team who keep an eye on employee productivity. Reports indicate that the level of productivity these teams are required to deliver assumes that all employees are working on primary responsibilities 100% of the time.

Google CEO Larry page killed off Google Labs, which fostered the development of experimental projects. Employees using their 20% time created many of those Google Labs projects. 

Source: Quartz

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RE: This makes sense.
By Jaybus on 8/19/2013 1:50:54 PM , Rating: 3
Well, then it is indeed dead. Submitting a project for management approval has no resemblance to 20% time. That's a suggestion box. The assumption is that management is smarter than everyone else and so can better decide which projects are winners. I say that is a big assumption. Management arrogance seems to grow as a nonlinear function of the level of bureaucracy. The "do as your told" model does not allow for innovation, but instead leads to the efficient, orderly design of a better bloodletting device.

RE: This makes sense.
By retrospooty on 8/19/2013 4:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno. It depends entirely on what Google was getting out of it. How do you know all their best products didn't come from some agreed upon projects and the 20% time thing wasn't being abused. Companies don't just "shut down innovation" for no reason. They do studies and its all about ROI. If they don't feel like it's making any worthwhile achievements they shut it down. Unless you have a list of what projects actually came from this 20% time, and what projects are actually being shut down, its just speculation. I would at least wait for Google employees to chime in on it before damning it.

RE: This makes sense.
By tng on 8/19/2013 4:09:53 PM , Rating: 3
The assumption is that management is smarter than everyone else and so can better decide which projects are winners.
Seen that in action...

I go to a large company that sells what used to be a very innovative product. About 6 years ago an engineer described a way to use their product in a completely new way, just minimal software and math to make it happen. Management literally came out and said that the plan would never sell.

Last year they were forced to admit that the reason sales were down was because one of their competitors had the same idea and being far smaller and "hungry" had developed it, marketed it and now they are the leader.

RE: This makes sense.
By retrospooty on 8/19/2013 4:24:00 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, it happens, but it depends entirely on the leadership at the company in question. If its not being run well, and bad decisions are being made about which projects/products to work on, and what features to put in the products it will probably go downhill. On one hand if they are killing good projects, its a bad thing, but they could also be killing useless projects in facvor of having more work on good ones.

If anyone has any info on what specific projects are being shut down that is some good info. Other than that it's pure guess work.

RE: This makes sense.
By Samus on 8/19/2013 9:07:29 PM , Rating: 2
It all depends how efficiently management evaluates potential projects. If there aren't any loopholes or ridiculous red tape\favoritism for possible Google Labs approval, this will improve productivity at Google.

Many 20% projects, like the Google Search Appliance, Google Buzz, Google Video Player, Jaiku/Dodgeball (Twitter/Foursquare competitors) and the anomaly Orkut (which directly competes with Google's own Google+) are all failures. Some were good ideas, but they made no money (and were in fact money pits) and never made it into Google Labs (with the exception of the GSA which is pending discontinuation in favor of cloud-based Google Enterprise Search)

RE: This makes sense.
By superstition on 8/21/2013 4:19:38 PM , Rating: 2
Lots of management-approved products are failures, too. How about Microsoft Bob?

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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