Debunking the 20% innovation time enigma

The idea that enterprises large and small can get more innovation out of their employee base (while at the same time potentially improving their work-life balance and personal fulfillment register) by insisting that 10, 15 or perhaps 20% of time is spent on experimentation and exploration is not new, so how should we apply it to the post-millennial age of business?


A keen and expectant but slightly nervous job candidate walks into an interview room. The steely-eyed inquisitors who form the interview panel get through the usual ‘where do you see yourself in five-years' time?’ bread and butter. They then look for that spark that might provide them with enough impetus to offer the poor soul a job.

They table the ‘what are your weakness?’ and ‘what would you last boss say about you?’ fodder and realise there is only one option left. They have to go for the killer ‘can you give us 110 percent every day?’ question.

Our candidate bravely replies, ‘… well no, I had figured on giving you 90 percent in my first month, but dropping to 85 percent throughout quarters two and three while I look at some Proof of Concept (PoC) prototyping… and I thought I’d round the year out at 80 percent effort as I look to combine work operations time plus innovation time, plus I want to learn colloquial Japanese...’ before sitting back in the chair.

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