Allan refers to Marissa Mayer's talk at Stanford about Google's culture of innovation. She said that every Google engineer is permitted to work on his or her own pet project for 20% of their time. She added that in the second half of 2005, 50% of Google products came from that 20%.
That is a very different culture from most companies I've ever seen, where few people are energized with new ideas, and those that have great ideas are often frustrated by politics or lack of resources to the point where they have no hope that their ideas will be heard or implemented.
Allen described some recent encounters that helped him decide on this new perk:
A genealogist recently asked Allen, "Why can't we get you guys (meaning those of us who run genealogy internet companies) to do genealogy yourselves so that you
know what we need you to build for us."
Although he defended himself by saying that he's read 2,000 pages about genealogy sources in the past year, the genealogist continued, "But reading about genealogy, and doing genealogy are two very different things."
Allen also saw another blogger's post from several months ago wishing that "Dick Eastman could be the CEO of a genealogy internet company so that it would be sure to do all the right things."
And so he decided to do something that related to these encounters and his March 18 posting included:
And I know that if we take the time to use our own products continually, that we will have more insights about how to improve the user experience.
So, today I am announcing 10% time for all employees at FamilyLink.com.
I am asking every full time employee in the company to spend 10% of their paid time working on their own family history. This includes researching, collaborating, preserving, and sharing. It means using our web sites and other software and web sites as well.
I will commit to do the same.
In addition, I am asking each employee to document the frustrations and obstacles they encounter along the way. And whenever they have an idea about how to improve something to jot it down.
I will regularly review the top ideas that are submitted by each employee.
As Marissa Mayer kept a list of the top 100 personal projects under way at Google, I will keep a running list of the top 100 best ideas for improving the online experience in family history.
To determine the best ideas, I may use my own subjective judgment or have a few advisors review them with me, or maybe even rely upon the "wisdom of the crowds" and use customer surveys to gather votes.
Each month, I will award bonuses to the employees who submitted the best ideas.
Once we have this structure in place, I'd like to open it up to our customers as well, and reward them for taking the time to tell us how we can improve our services.
There's more, so click here to read it all.