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The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business Hardcover – April 17, 2012


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The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business + Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total Efficiency
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062003232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062003232
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Tate’s enthusiastic but objective study gathers momentum as the book progresses; each chapter builds on the previous one, and he’s quick to point out the practicality of the process. Whether readers are in the corner office or the boiler room, they’ll likely find Tate’s opus to be inspiring and informative.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Useful and inspiring advice for tinkerers.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“In any organization a lot of the rank-and-file are ready to start efforts which will contribute to their community, maybe building the bottom line. The 20 % Doctrine shows how organizations have made that work in real life, and how you might make that happen where you work.” (Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craigconnects)

“The most innovative companies in America are those that are willing to let employees explore their own pet projects on company time. The 20% Doctrine is a smart, well-written look at this new path to innovation, full of examples that are engaging, thought provoking, and intriguingly diverse.” (Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine)

From the Back Cover

An inspiring exploration of how unorthodox business practices and the freedom to experiment can fuel innovation

We're at a crossroads. Many iconic American companies have been bailed out or gone bankrupt; others are struggling to survive as digitization and globalization remake their industries. At the same time, the tectonic forces disrupting U.S. corporations—ubiquitous bandwidth and computing power, cheap manufacturing and distribution—have enabled large organizations to foster new innovations and products through experiments that are at once more aggressive and less risky than they would have been twenty years ago. At companies such as Google, employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their work time on projects they're personally interested in. Almost half of Google's new product launches have originated from this policy, including Gmail and AdSense. Now other companies have adopted the concept, providing them a path to innovation and profits at a time of peril and uncertainty and offering employees creative freedom when many are feeling restless.

The 20% Doctrine is about goofing off at work, and how that goofing off can drive innovation and profit. Here Ryan Tate examines the origins and implementation of 20% time at Google, then looks at how other organizations such as Flickr, the Huffington Post, and even a school in the Bronx have adapted or reinvented the same overall concept, intentionally and serendipitously. Along the way, he distills a series of common themes and lessons that can help workers initiate successful 20% style projects within their own organizations. Only through a new devotion to the unhinged and the ad hoc can American businesses resume a steady pace of development and profitability.


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Customer Reviews

Easy to read and understand.
Jose Troncoso
I recommend this book to any business, whether you are a corporation or self-employed.
Kay W
It really made me think about how different things are now than when I was growing up.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By 4moreshelflife on September 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A candid look at the companies that use the 20% doctrine to cultivate each employee's created passion for a particular project or idea. Wish all companies and non-profits thought this way. Even MBA's are scratching their heads on why this works so well and not taught in school.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Isaacson on May 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"This was a unique focus on our changing business practices and culture. I loved the variety of passionate pursuits that resulted in business successes--a teacher and a chef amongst the tech-world ventures. Tate truly captured the precipice of where we are with our changing workplace. We spend so much of our lives working, and the combination of the new technology and upcoming, younger generation of workers has humanized the workplace. Tate stated it well: "...we should end up with more innovation, creativity, emotional touch points, and indeed more humanity in the modern workplace." This was a fun, touching, and inspiring read on so many levels--one of those rare books that leaves you sad when it's over precisely because it's over. Truly unique and timely!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary J. Gilbert Jr. on March 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A worthwhile read about an interesting business practice. Although 20% time wouldn't necessarily work for my organization, this book did cause me to stop and consider that there are probably some gems hidden amongst our human resources. This short book could be finished in an afternoon, and should be read by anyone interested in business or business leadership.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frederic Caldwell on January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book on the subject of taking a fresh look at the way that companies can nurture a culture of innovation and creativity. I recently took on a pet project of seeing if I could bring the idea of a Hackathon to the company I work at, and came across this book as I was researching the topic online. I had been struggling with the fact that 20% projects at companies like Google seemed more easily achieved since the engineering resources are more fungible than what you might expect at a company that also does a lot of hardware design.

What I liked about it is that the author did a nice job of looking at the subject of "tinkering" in a relatively broad way that made the prospect of doing something similar at any sort of company seem more tenable. There were several case studies that were intended to support the thesis stated in the title, and I think that they served their purpose well.

I ended up using several key concepts from the various case studies for my company's Hackathon, and felt that this was a credible playbook for how to instill this type of culture beyond its traditional software domain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. Someone recommended it to me and I liked it even more that I thought I would. It really made me think about how different things are now than when I was growing up. I found the book to be through in making it's point and really well researched. It shows a great understanding of this generation and will give a good idea of how college grads should now be thinking when they are entering the work force.
I bought it for my father and a friend and found that even with a 30 year age span between them they both found it not only equally as interesting but a great read.
I like the author's style and will definitely be looking for his next book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
More "here's what other people do" than actual useful advice, steer clear if you're looking for actual help in productivity.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not a particularly well written book, it explores with some liberties its main premise but sometimes fails to show how these stories of success are replicable. It is clear that the author goes a great length to show that all of these projects are somehow connected but that doesn't seem to be always the case.

In spite of those remarks, it's a great read for anyone interested in knowing where all the hackathon frenzy comes from and why the entrepreneurial culture is so eager of embracing what they think constitutes the hacker culture in its essence. Paradoxically, what you get from this book is that hackathons have much more to do with companies and capitalism than with the hacker ethic.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author presents a handful of successful 20% projects in a range of industries. If you have done any reading about or working in the computing industry, the idea of 20% time should be a familiar one. While this book presents a depth on this particular set of 20% projects, I think the strength of the book is its coverage of the problem solving approaches in these different industries. 20% time might be a common thread across these stories, but the book could just as easily have been titled "companies or government attempts to try something different".

Overall I think the book is ok, and if you're interested in reading how organizations pursue side projects this book is a reasonably quick read on the subject.
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