Origin of 20% time

By: Paul A. Clayton (paaronclayton.delete@this.gmail.com), July 10, 2012 6:41 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
How old is the concept of allowing workers to spend time on side projects?

A concept not entirely dissimilar to Google's '20% time' is presented in A Canticle for Liebowitz (1960), where monks were allowed to work on side projects after a given quota was completed.

It seems obvious (perhaps merely in hindsight) that such would tend to improve morale and creativity (not only in the side project but by proper distraction and cross-fertilization in the main project). While not all work is as tedious and detailed-oriented as hand copying texts nor as creative as (at least some) work at Google, it seems that part of the principle behind such would apply somewhat generally.

Proper distraction (which may merely mean having more than one task available and alternating among tasks before boredom or frustration becomes excessive) and emotional incentives for productivity (20% time is perhaps more indirect in this than the system mentioned in Canticle) seem to be such obvious concepts that I could imagine such could have been recognized very early in the process of civilization (presuming that the reduced specialization in hunter-gatherer societies would have reduced the need for conscious distraction).

The concept of Sabbath also seems to be somewhat related, where a day of rest and distraction from the daily grind can not only reorient people to proper priorities but also increase productivity.
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TopicPosted ByDate
Origin of 20% timePaul A. Clayton2012/07/10 06:41 PM
  Origin of 20% timeEduardoS2012/07/10 07:14 PM
    Origin of 20% time ... HP?Mark Roulo2012/07/11 07:26 AM
      Google twice as good :-)Paul A. Clayton2012/07/12 05:06 PM
        That's still 5 times less than optimalfanboy2012/07/12 07:28 PM
          Valve's model is not for everyonePaul A. Clayton2012/07/14 08:37 AM
            creative chaos, chaotic creativityhobold2012/07/13 11:15 AM
              DAVID LOOK AT THE TIME ON THE PRIOR POSTrwessel2012/07/13 01:20 PM
                DAVID LOOK AT THE TIME ON THE PRIOR POSTrwessel2012/07/13 01:22 PM
                  test posted 2012-07-15 08:08 PDTMichael S2012/07/13 11:26 PM
                   test posted 2012-07-15 08:10 PDTMichael S2012/07/13 11:28 PM
  Origin of 20% timeFoo_2012/07/12 03:06 PM
    Impact of Protestant work ethic?Paul A. Clayton2012/07/12 04:33 PM
      Impact of Protestant work ethic?Foo_2012/07/13 04:55 AM
    Origin of 20% timeRob Thorpe2012/07/13 04:34 AM
      Origin of 20% timeFoo_2012/07/13 05:08 AM
  3M's 15% timePaul A. Clayton2012/08/02 07:53 AM
    Valve's 100% timematheson2012/08/06 03:55 PM
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