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Can Google’s 20% time really work for your startup?

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Marc Anderson
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In their 2004 IPO letter, Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revealed that the policy of allowing employees to take time out of their core jobs to be creative and experimental had led to some of the company’s most successful products.

/p p Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple have all implemented their own versions of 20 percent time, but as huge and highly successful technology companies with money to spare, it’s a bet they can afford to make.

At Server Density we give our engineers a quota of one week out of every six to work on whatever they like, as long as it’s relevant to the company; something we call a “random week.” This policy has resulted in some key product innovations for us.

/p p For example, one of our developers chose to use several of his random weeks over a period of several months to refactor and reimplement our server-monitoring time series graphing engine.

We would get regular reports of minor graphing bugs, which were small on their own but added up to make our graphing a pain point for customers.

We didn’t focus on it in our usual roadmap because we had higher priority feature requests.

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Marc Anderson
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