A Machine That Goes of Itself

“20% Time” is purportedly done at Google depending on who you ask.  This is not surprising in a large organization, which tend to become more controlling over time, but hey Microsoft, “Don’t Be Evil.”  I like to hammer on Google because they are the perfect exemplar of just how fast you can go from daring, reckless innovator to  money chasing, power grubbing, privacy violating, insufferably arrogant mega-corporation.

Here’s how Google has effectively shut down 20% time without actually ending the program, says our source: First, as has been reported previously, Google began to require that engineers get approval from management to take 20% time in order to work on independent projects, a marked departure from the company’s previous policy of making 20% time a right of all Googlers.

Of course it takes approval, independent thought and action is for senior management.

Recently, however, Google’s upper management has clamped down even further, by strongly discouraging managers from approving any 20% projects at all. Managers are judged on the productivity of their teams—Google has a highly developed internal analytics team that constantly measures all employees’ productivity—and the level of productivity that teams are expected to deliver assumes that employees are working on their primary responsibilities 100% of the time.

It’s back on the chain gang boys and girls. Now, put your mouse into it!  The next step for Google in their evolution to fully worthless is to go crying to the government about foreign competition by which they will mean domestic competition whose innovation is hurting their quarterly profits.

Now comes the counter story:

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.”

However, I would agree that it is “as good as dead”. What killed 20% time? Stack ranking.

Stack ranking?  Jack Welch’s Darwinian approach of killing off the bottom 20% aka getting rid of political enemies.  Apparently at Google they don’t actually fire them.  They must have a re-education camp or something.

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.

You think?  You are just a cog in the wheel of the machine that goes of itself, whose purpose is not clear but at least it has a “mission statement”, “values” and quarterly earning’s reports.  They just don’t revolve around humanity.




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