It has been widely publicized that Google allows its people to use 20 percent of their time to work on whatever they want. This seems like a huge amount of time taken away from other projects, so why do they do it? The answer: it works!
Google’s practice is loosely based on “open innovation,” a concept that has been around for more than a decade that rests on leveraging the diversity of experience. The genius of Google’s model is that the company essentially has thousands of employees working on research and development. It creates a much wider net to collect those great ideas on which to base the growth of the company, even if the ideas coming from the employees differ from the ideas coming from the head shed.
A company in which the number-one rule is that the boss is always right has a much higher likelihood of failure. The days where organizational success hinged on the lone genius are gone, as one person can’t possibly know enough in all the areas needed to achieve sustained success in today’s VUCA environment.
By allowing employees to have a voice, even if (or perhaps especially if) that voice expresses a differing idea or conclusion, you create an environment in which the leader has a greater likelihood of getting the most accurate and most relevant information to make the best decision possible.
To learn more about open innovation and other related topics, check out my book Outsmarting V.U.C.A.