Google dice que todavía usa la regla del 20 por ciento, y debería copiarla por todas partes

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Esta es una historia sobre la cuarta empresa más grande del mundo y un hábito simple de copiar sin importar cuán grande o pequeña sea su empresa (o incluso si no tiene una empresa en absoluto).

La empresa es Alphabet, la empresa matriz de Google. El hábito es lo que se conoce como «20 por ciento del tiempo».

Lo uso en mi vida profesional. Y si aún no lo ha hecho, puede considerarlo seriamente.

La idea es bastante simple: usted, un equipo o una empresa, cualquiera, en realidad, debe dividir su tiempo de trabajo para que al menos el 20 por ciento se dedique a investigar o trabajar en proyectos que no prometan dividendos instantáneos, pero que podrían ser grandes. Revelando oportunidades en la carretera.

«Alentamos a nuestros empleados, además de sus proyectos habituales, a que dediquen el 20 por ciento de su tiempo a trabajar en lo que creen que beneficiará más a Google», escribieron los cofundadores Larry Page y Sergey Brin en 2004 antes de la OPI. Empresa. «Esto les permite ser más creativos e innovadores. Muchos de nuestros avances significativos se han realizado de esa manera».

Estos avances incluyen Google News (2002), AdSense (2003) y Gmail (2004).

Ahora, es justo preguntar si Google «20 por ciento del tiempo» realmente sobrevivió todos esos años después, cuando la compañía creció desde su etapa previa a la OPI a una fuerza tan dominante que se enfrenta a una investigación antimonopolio.

El propio Google dice que sí. Un portavoz de Google me dijo esta semana que «el 20 por ciento del tiempo» es «una iniciativa de Google de larga data … y sigue siendo un programa activo».

Las últimas innovaciones de productos que Google llama su origen «20 por ciento del tiempo» son Google Cardboard y Wear OS (originalmente conocidos como Android Wear), ambos lanzados en 2014.

«Actualmente no hay nuevos productos para compartir», dijo el portavoz de Google.

Y exteriormente, ha habido mucha especulación a lo largo de los años sobre si el programa todavía existe. Según los informes, algunos ingenieros se han referido a él como «120 por ciento del tiempo», lo que significa que estaría haciendo esto además de su carga de trabajo completa, no como un reemplazo de ninguna parte.

Para nuestros propósitos, sin embargo, no importa si el «20 por ciento del tiempo» realmente puede sobrevivir en una empresa de $ 1,1 billones que cotiza en bolsa.

Porque es probable que esté dirigiendo una empresa más pequeña y más escasa, o dirigiendo un equipo más pequeño, o simplemente administrando su propia productividad y desarrollo profesional.

En otras palabras, te pareces más a Google hace 20 años que al gigante que es hoy. Y definitivamente deberías robar esta idea y ponerla en práctica.

Es posible que esté haciendo algo de eso ahora, incluso si no lo llama «20 por ciento del tiempo».

Piense en las cosas que dedica tiempo a hacer para ampliar sus horizontes y alertarlo sobre oportunidades o desarrollar nuevas habilidades que no estén relacionadas con un beneficio profesional inmediato.

Como ejemplo sencillo: leer al aire libre. ¿O experimentar con nuevos sistemas o procesos? ¿Participar en conferencias (inicialmente de forma virtual, estoy seguro), establecer contactos o simplemente celebrar reuniones?

Es incluso mejor cuando puede referirse a un proyecto específico en el que está trabajando en el que no está seguro de si funcionará o si dará sus frutos financieramente, pero que hay algo que puede aprender independientemente.

En mi caso personal, pondría mi boletín diario por correo electrónico en esta categoría. Pero probablemente sea incluso mejor si tiene algo menos que ver con lo que haces para ganarte la vida.

Y recuerde, está absolutamente bien si nunca paga dividendos perceptibles. Es el camino no lineal que ofrece las mayores oportunidades.

«La mayoría de los proyectos riesgosos fracasan», escribieron Page y Brin en 2004, «y a menudo nos enseñan algo. Otros tienen éxito y se convierten en empresas atractivas».

Intentalo. Olvídese del 80 por ciento de lo que se trata ahora: mantenga la cabeza fuera del agua, genere ingresos, siga el camino que ve más adelante y, con suerte, sienta algo de pasión por seguir.

Eso deja una quinta parte de su tiempo. Haz lo que dice Google: gasta el 20% en ti mismo y en tu futuro. Podrías encontrar un pago real en el futuro.

Las opiniones expresadas por los columnistas de Inc.com aquí son las suyas propias, no las de Inc.com.

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"We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20 percent of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google," co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote in 2004, before the company's IPO. "This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner."

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Among those advances: Google News (2002), AdSense (2003), and Gmail (2004). 

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Now, it's fair to ask whether "20 percent time" has truly survived within Google all these years later, as the company grew from the pre-IPO stage to become a force so dominant that it's facing an antitrust probe.

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Google itself says yes. A Google spokesperson told me this week that "20 percent time" is "a long-standing Google initiative ... and still an active program."

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That said, the most recent product innovations that Google cites as having its origins in "20 percent time" are Google Cardboard and and Wear OS (originally known as Android Wear), which were both introduced in 2014.

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"No new products to share at this time," the Google spokesperson said.

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And, on the outside, there's been a lot of speculation over the years about whether the program still exists. Some engineers reportedly referred to it as "120 percent time," meaning it's something you'd do in addition to your full workload, not as a replacement for part of it.

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But for our purposes, it doesn't really matter whether "20 percent time" can truly survive in  a $1.1 trillion, public company. 

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Because you're likely either running a smaller, scrappier company, or else leading a smaller team -- or even simply managing your own productivity and professional development.

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In other words, you're more like Google was 20 years ago than the juggernaut it is today. And you should absolutely steal this idea and put it into practice.

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Now, you might be doing some of this already, even if you don't call it "20 percent time."

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Think of the things that you spend time on that broaden your horizons and make you aware of opportunities, or help you develop new skills, but that don't relate to an immediate professional benefit.

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As a simple example: outside reading. Or else, experimenting with new systems or processes? Attending conferences (virtual for now, I'm sure), networking, or simply taking meetings?

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It's even better if you can point to a specific project you're working on, that you're not sure will work out, or pay off financially, but that you can learn something from, regardless.

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In my personal case, I'd put my daily email newsletter in that category. But it's probably even better if it's something even less related to what you do professionally.

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And remember, it's absolutely fine if it never pays recognizable dividends. It's the nonlinear path that yields to the biggest opportunities.

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"Most risky projects fizzle," Page and Brin wrote in 2004, "often teaching us something. Others succeed and become attractive businesses." 

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So, give it a try. Let 80 percent of what you do be about now: keeping your head above water, bringing in revenue, following the trail that you see in front of you, and that hopefully, you feel some passion about following.

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But that leaves one-fifth of your time. Do what Google says they do with it: spend 20 percent on yourself, and your future. You might find a real payoff down the road.

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