Google's "20% Time," Which Brought You Gmail and AdSense, Is Now as Good as Dead

Quartz • 16 August 2013

What's next? Google's famed "20% time," which allowed employees to devote company time to exploring their own ideas, is apparently going the way of Yahoo's "work at home" policy. The company still encourages individual initiative, but some engineers are now dubbing it "120% time," noting that full-time work assignments come first. The move reflects CEO Larry Page's announcement the company would be adopting a "more wood behind fewer arrows" strategy toward new product development.

You can imagine how this kind of a policy would become more and more difficult to maintain as the company grew. I thought the most interesting thing was the assertion by one engineer that you actually needed 40% time—20% to build something and 20% to tell people you'd done it (sell it). Internal marketing. (Michalko)

How to Schedule Time for Meaningful Work

HBR IdeaCast • 2 August 2013

Working smarter. Productivity experts Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen discuss ways that knowledge workers can streamline some non-essential activities to carve out time for more important matters. Their study of 45 companies revealed that with just a little coaching, most knowledge workers were able to free up about eight hours a week by delegating, eliminating or outsourcing functions. The extra time was then used for closer one-on-one mentoring with less-skilled subordinates that helped raise overall productivity. Read on for the four diagnostic questions you should be asking about every meeting scheduled and e-mail stream received.

And here a professor and consultant tell you how to get back that twenty percent. I like that they highlighted "coordination costs." As your work milieu gets more complicated you have to spend more time coordinating it and less time doing things. Coordination costs are, of course, a form of "transaction costs" which were at the heart of Ronald Coase's contribution to economics. He died recently at age 102. Here he is celebrating his 100th at the University of Chicago. (obituaries) (Michalko)

In Praise of Laziness

The Economist • 17 August 2013

Lean back. "Leaning in" is "producing an epidemic of overwork" for American managers, with roughly eight-and-a-half hours added to the average U.S. work week since 1979. The primary culprit is e-mail, with meetings second. Read on for more on why doing less and strategizing more could be the next big management craze.

Did you catch that reference to Ferrari's e-mail decision in the discussion between the professor and consultant in the previous article? The author of this essay is applauding. Me too. (Michalko)

The Alliances Form in the Collaborative Economy Battleground

Jeremiah Owyang • 3 August 2013

Peering ahead. Industrial analyst Jeremiah Owyang discusses how some corporations are partnering up with the emerging collaborative economy to co-opt potential competition and sidestep disruption. Read on for some examples of how established businesses are reaching out to catch the social business wave.

I'm skeptical but it is early days. Reliability and the right bundle of services to support collaboratively may emerge from the current hodge podge. (Michalko)

The Books We've Lost

New York Review of Books • 13 August 2013

No second life. Essayist Charles Simic laments the demise of used book stores, where one could while away an afternoon in search of forgotten treasures.

The NSA Is Commandeering the Internet

The Atlantic • 12 August 2013

Just say no. Author Bruce Schneier calls on technology companies to resist the U.S. government's heavy-handed data collection tactics, warning that customers will not easily forgive and forget extensive privacy transgressions.

Two short rants—the first moves from a lament for browsing to a complaint about capitalism in magical realist fashion; the second is a call for somebody else to get in a fight. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

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