In an interview with John Battelle at the Web 2.0 Summit, Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt spoke about their 70-20-10 model. 70% of Google’s activity is core, aka search, while 10% is reserved for crazy stuff and employees are actively encouraged to allocate part of their time to such blue sky, left of field endeavors.
Eric noted that most of the impact is coming out of the 10-zone. No surprises there.
John went on to ask him, how then, does Google maintain focus.
Eric essentially replied that Google embraces chaos, they see chaos as being part of the creative process. I totally agree with this comment — from my point of view chaos is good, chaos should be encouraged. However, there is good chaos and there is bad chaos. Positive chaos continues to drive your activity in the direction you want to head, while negative chaos pulls you down and can cause a death spiral for any company.
It is important to also point out the context of Google’s chaos embrace. They have a system, a way of classifying innovation in certain markets to solve certain problems.
Eric also pointed out that they are very much a consensus driven company, where there are no single decision makers. He feels this leads to mor robust decisions and greater buy in. I believe that this is an essential ingredient to ensuring they keep their chaos balanced on the positive side.