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Google engineers insist 20% time is not dead—it’s just turned into 120% time

Under Larry Page, launching new initiatives is not for the faint of heart. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu A lively debate among current and former Google engineers is waging on Hacker News about Quartz’s piece on the death of 20% time at Google—that formerly hallowed portion of an engineer’s week set aside for his or her own projects, which brought us innovations such as Gmail and Adsense.Some Google engineers insist that the statements given to Quartz and issued elsewhere in public forums are flat-out wrong: “I don’t have to get approval to take 20% time, and I work with a number of people on their 20% projects,” says one anonymous poster claiming to be an engineer at Google.But other engineers, even those who say they use the free time at Google, painted a more nuanced picture.20% time isn’t dead — I have been using it at Google consistently for over 7 years, and it has immensely benefited me. You don’t need any permission, at least in engineering.Stack ranking is a policy—popularized by former GE CEO Jack Welch—of ranking employees by various metrics and firing the bottom 20%. Google doesn’t enact exactly this policy, and is more focused on helping its bottom 20% improve, but the point is that such policies of measurement don’t exactly lead to intangibles like incubating new initiatives or products.

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17 Aug
Deb Hartmann Preuss @deborahh
RT @petervan: Google engineers insist 20% time is not dead—it’s just turned into 120% time http://t.co/3zo6qUSOD8 via @qz #stoos #yam
17 Aug
Jason Yip @jchyip
Google engineers insist 20% time is not dead—it’s just turned into 120% time http://t.co/MNXcWqqmJF via @qz
16 Aug
Anna Nachesa @ashalynd
RT @qz: Google engineers insist 20% time is not dead—it’s just turned into 120% time http://t.co/QIVewhIAM5 by @mims