Google has 20% innovation time.

Google’s 80/20 innovation time refers to Google encouragin their employees to spend 20% of their paid time to dream, brainstorm, and test their own ideas.

3M has 15% innovation time.

Many, many companies have emulated 3M & Google’s 80/20 innovation time to create a culture of innovation.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

The key principle is that you can’t do 100% R&D. However, nor can you survive by investing 100% of your time on your current business models and your current way of making money.

Just because you’re faced with an adaptive challenge, doesn’t mean that your world should completely be consumed by 100% adaptive challenge work.

Not everything should be treated as a business model innovation. You absolutely can not abandon your current work, your strategic plan, or your balanced scorecards.

The 80% continues to pay the bills to keep the light on.

The world is changing around us and we don’t have a good solution of how to address this challenge. We call these kind of challenges Adaptive Challenges. The most innovative organizations dedicate and commit 20% of their time to research & development, while continuing to manage the ongoing 80% of their operation that frankly continues to pay the bill.

Organizations that boldly abandon all previous strategies and metrics in need to address a new future is playing russian roulette.

100% + 20% = 50%

With only 100% capacity, something has to sacrificed to make room for the 20%. You can’t do everything you’re already doing and then expect your organization to take on additional initiatives or projects. You can only do as much as your organization is capable of handling. The key is to make room for innovation and to allow for every level your organization to engage in 20% innovation work. When you pile on more than your organization can handle, you end up with less productivity and the additional expectation and strain crushes your people under the weight of the additional work.

Key Lessons

Be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. The 80% execution time is just as valuable as the 20% innovation time and managing your 80% time will allow for greater efficiencies and productivity. The key is making room for the 20% innovation time and to balance both addressing adaptive and technical challenges.