The Porch

Welcome to DORO – Pull Up a Chair

15% of Freedom vs. Clocking Fear

The 3M Approach Continued

15%

15% of Innovation

Since 1948, 3M© asks its employees to spend 15% of their paid time to work on products of their own choosing.  That 15% rule sparked the development of some of 3M’s most recognizable products – the most notable being the Post-It.

What?! In this day and age, a company allows employees to take time and dream up new ideas, strategies and products without direct orders and supervision? You mean to tell me that a company actually believes that it has hired smart, forward-thinking individuals who are committed to company growth? Amazing! But not all companies think that way.

Recently, while working on a long project, I mentioned that I’d put in considerable thought work on a blog series, to which the CEO replied, “Well nothing has been done.” I was shocked. I believed that the CEO understood the importance of building a case and thinking it through before investing too much time. But instead, the exec was clocking pennies.  I’d moved to what one of my former co-workers called the fast food approach. “May I take your order please,” the creative director would say and grab a plain tablet when he felt that his ideas where being dismissed not because they were bad, but because the client was focused only on time.  Why be creative at that point? Just direct.

In many working environments, every single second of a 40-hour week must be devoted to specific projects. Workers worry about the extra 15 minutes they spend actually thinking because that time isn’t trackable. But companies like Google, whose own 20% rule spawned Gmail and Google Earth, understand that there is nothing as rewarding to company as an engaged professional with room to think.

Everyone has to watch their budget. Time costs, for certain. But I’d much rather invest in a talented thinker than a frightened worker who shuts down innovation before it begins. A lot of success might be tracked back to that 15% of freedom.

Sources:

How 3M Gave Everyone Days Off and Created an Innovation Dynamo” by Kaomi Goetz

 

 

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