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Innovative ideas

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.

Blogging from the field: Kadogo and Oyugis, Yogurt Results from Kenya

Karen Vega's picture

Hi I am Karen Vega, and am responsible for oversight and monitoring for the Development Marketplace project portfolio. I am on mission visiting projects in Tanzania, Kenya and Burkina Faso. I am currently in Kenya visiting the Pro-biotic Yogurt project implemented by The Ministry of Health of Kenya in partnership with its research institute KEMRI and the University of Western Ontario.

The objective of this project is to establish a sustainable grass-roots food based development initiative for the purpose of improving the health and nutrition levels among vulnerable social groups in Oyugis-Rachuonyo district. The innovative character of the project is connecting the appropriate technology, training and local resources (dairy) to produce a community based intervention program. When pro-biotics are consumed in adequate amounts Canadian and Nigerian studies have shown pro-biotics to be effective in treating uro-genital infections and diarrheal disease including people living with HIV/AIDS!