The 80/20 rule has become 80% information, 20% imagination for me. ME Strauss
I just reviewed a book: The Google Story, by David Vise, and Mark Malseed. Read my review at Amazon
This book presents an interesting description of the 20 percent rule (pp. 131-133, 137-140, 212). According to this rule, staff is permitted at Google to be innovative and creative. Wherein, twenty percent of the staff time is spent as-you-like-it.
At Google there is a 20 percent rule, that encourages employees to be creative and innovative. Employees are told to work on their own interests for 20 percent of their time, or one day per week. These projects are encouraged to spark the creativity of Google's employees and to motivate them to come up with new products and ideas. To quote Krishna Baharat from Google (who developed Google News as one of his 20 percent projects), "The 20 percent time was invented for people to just explore. People are productive when they are working on things they see as important or they have invented, or are working on something they are passionate about. This is also an opportunity to get bottom-up innovation. There is only so much that top management can specify or ordain." (Vise, 2005, p. 132). Employees have some flexibility around their 20 percent time -- they can use it weekly, or pool it, to spend more concentrated time on their projects.[Barb has this extract and more research on the patterns in the corporate culture]
What The Google Story does not tell you about this rule, as well the conceptual boundaries, in a holistic sense is given below, from another source:
For those of you not familiar with the Google enterprise structure, they have established a ‘golden rule’ for managing innovation. No, it’s not the 80/20 rule; it’s the 70/20/10 rule. 70 percent of your time on the core business, 20 percent on related projects, and 10 percent on unrelated new businesses. Let’s say for someone working 50 hours a week, 5 hours would be focused on new projects. This is how Google has established itself as an innovator, a leader in the search engine world, and more recently a leader in new technical areas. Continue readingIf you wish to read The Google story here is an extract: From the Book
Here, I am not raising any issues relating to Web at work, or Personal Time vs. Company Time, etc.. You may as well Google for more on this dichotomy and work culture as it evolves
The bottom line is free Lunch, sure, albeit for corporate benefit. And don't forget: the rule can be ten percent or twenty percent - but it works and organizations can benefit by this free will and freedom to be innovative and creative.