The 20% Doctrine: a conversation with author Ryan Tate

Google must be doing something right….

They came up a lot in my recent conversation with Tony Wagner on Creating Innovators and again in a conversation I had with Ryan Tate, author of the new book, The 20% Doctrine.

Obviously, Google is the pinup boy for this new approach: letting staff take 20 percent of their time to work on ideas that interest them personally, ultimately leading to the creation of both Gmail and Google News.

And with many other companies, especially in ‘the Valley’ embracing this concept and trying to “harvest innovation from the margins,” it must be good for everyone, right?

If you think anything like me, your issue with this is that most companies are not Google, are not making cash at will, or don’t have some VC throwing the stuff at them for stupid valuations (Instapaper, anyone?).

So how does this work in the “real world?”

To find out, I had a conversation with Ryan about the various case studies he did while putting the book together, which you can download below.

We covered a lot of ground in the 52-minute conversation including:

• Is the “20 percent time” policy just a Silicon Valley thing or can it also work for other types of businesses?

• At what point should business owners implement this policy to ensure that it’s going to be productive and profitable?

• How can an organization ensure that the  “20 percent” their staff is investing in these projects are actually kept within the walls of the company?


Pete Williams is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer from Melbourne, Australia.

Before being honored “Australia’s Richard Branson” in media publications all over the continent, Pete was just 21 years old when he sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium, The Melbourne Cricket Ground For Under $500! Don’t believe it? You will! Check out the story in the FAQ section (it really is our most asked question).

Since then, he’s done some cool stuff like write the international smash hit ‘How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality’ (+ the upcoming ‘It’s Not About the Product‘) and he’s created a bunch of companies including Infiniti Telecommunications, On Hold Advertising, Simply Headsets and Preneur Group.

Lots of other people think he’s pretty good too! He’s been announced as the Global Runner-Up in the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Awards for 2009, the Southern Region Finalist in the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year, and a member of SmartCompany’s Top 30 Under 30.

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