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Creative approaches

What Can We Learn from Google's "Mistake?"

Tanya Gupta's picture

Google’s every action is studied under a microscope.  However, one major “mistake” that Google made may have gotten lost.  Google’s policy of freeing up 20% time for all engineers, no management approval needed, was cancelled.  Yes, this is the same policy that was responsible for Gmail.  Google’s former policy had been held up as best practice at Google and in the tech community, and was advertised as a Googler perk.  Although the 20% rule had been used at 3M and HP before, Google made it their own and resulted in industry changing products. 

You may ask - why was the 20% rule such a good idea and why is removing it a mistake? The reason Google’s 20% time off is a great idea is because it worked and worked well. One needs a certain amount of freedom to be creative.  A study on mechanisms of grant funding (long term vs. short term) found that freedom encourages creativity when the freedom was believed to be long term.  “If you want people to branch out in new directions, then it’s important to provide for their long-term horizons, to give them time to experiment and potentially fail.  The researcher has to believe that short-term failure will not be punished” ” says Pierre Azoulay, an associate professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and an author of an MIT study on the subject. Freedom of thought inspires creativity and the development community, more than anyone else needs to break away from traditional thinking.

Facebook: A powerful tool to increase public access to government officials

Mohammad Amin's picture

Most of the attention on governance in developing countries is on developing efficient rules and regulations. That is, given the social and economic priorities of a country, rules and regulations should work towards achieving priorities in the least costly way. However, another dimension of governance that must be discussed is accessibility of government officials to the public. Arguably, better access would increase transparency and help citizens and businesses voice their ideas and concerns, thereby allowing for more effective implementation of laws.

Harnessing development’s information shadow

In a previous post, I introduced the concept of development’s information shadow (mediated from Tim O’Reilly), arguing that the development world will gradually produce an increasing amount of digital data with a relationship to real world objects (think, for example, of a digital map of safe drinking water sources in a given location).

Development 2.0: The skills gap

No summer lull for the Development 2.0 world, it would seem, judging from recent activity: from Richard Heeks’ paper on Development 2.0: Transformative ICT-Enabled Development Models and Impacts to a comprehensive checklist comparing “old school development” with Development 2.0 aid; from Idealware’s

How do we get the crowd-sorcerers and the muggles to work together?

Ryan Hahn's picture

Humanitarian aid is not a standard topic for the PSD Blog, but I ran across a post recently on the disaster in Haiti that cuts across a lot of themes. Over at iRevolution, Patrick Philip Meier discusses the tension between those who helped crowdsource information related to the disaster -- what he calls the crowd-sorcerers -- and the formal humanitarian aid organizations -- playfully called "muggles".

Rewriting the script for aid and development

“Are aid workers living a lie?” asks Duncan Green over at Oxfam in a provocative blog post. Summarising the points from a paper in the European Journal of Development Research (gated), he hones in on “the dissonance” between what aid workers actually do and what they report they do.

Do casinos produce anything valuable?

Ryan Hahn's picture

"Are markets simply casinos for betting?" Asli recently asked this question on the All About Finance blog. She argues that financial markets do a lot more than that, and I agree. But there are some markets that come very close to being casinos. Surprisingly, in the wake of the financial crisis, the U.S.


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