I’ve mentioned before that I believe all companies should invest time in thinking strategically. How much time should you allow employees to dream big? Will the results pay off for your business?
Let’s look at examples of how highly innovative companies handle time for creativity. Not coincidentally, all three are profitable technology companies.
Google’s employees follow a “20 percent time” model: 70 percent of their time should be devoted to their “job role,” 20 percent for “technical projects of their own choosing,” and the remaining 10 percent is “free time” to be innovative and creative.
Apple’s strategic thinking program is named “Blue Sky” and “gives a small group of employees 2 weeks or ‘a limited amount of time’ to work on a project outside of their normal responsibilities.”
LinkedIn has more of a start-up company experience called InCubator where “engineers can get 30 to 90 days away from their regular work to develop ideas of their own into products.” Their ideas must turn into prototypes that go through judging before proceeding to implementation.
All three companies provide non-executive employees time to think strategically.
Fantastic! I believe strong strategic ideas can be generated from any level of the organization and allocating time for this purpose is a win-win for the employee and company.
So how much time should your company devote to strategic thinking? Few will reach the high mark set at Google, but at the bare minimum, I recommend at least two hours once every quarter for engineers and above.
This smidge of commitment to creativity would be appropriate for a company manufacturing non-innovative products – say, bolts sold in the local hardware store.
There’s a pretty big gap between the minimum and the maximum. Does the amount of time spent correspond to the amount of successful innovation?
Where does – or should — your company operate in this spectrum? Do you have a better set of guidelines? I’d love to hear them.
Photo credit: Chris McClave (Wikimedia)