There are rumors floating around that the software giant Google might scrap their 80/20 rule. The policy allowed Google employees 20% of their work time to be clear of all responsibilities to encourage side projects and innovation. This policy was later followed by other companies as well.
It was widely acknowledged that the rule promoted innovation and creativity across the board. Now it seems like Google doesn’t consider it an effective policy for them, but does that really mean it isn’t an effective policy for you?
What is the 80/20 Rule?
Way back in 1906, an Italian economist by the name of Vilfredo Pareto, noticed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He developed this by observing that 20% of the peapods on his property yielded 80% of the peas.
Later on, a management consultant Joseph Juran noticed that this rule applied to other concepts too, and called it the Pareto principle. Accordingly, it can be applied to company management as well. In essence, according to this principle you get 80% of results from 20% of your effort.
In the software development world, this principle takes on a different form. According to research and observations, 80% of the results and improvements in the program come from alterations in 20% of the code. According to Microsoft, 20% of all detected bugs cause 80% of the problems.
How Can a CIO Take Advantage of This?
Whether its problem solving, or development, this rule seems to apply. Needlessly to say, it applies to time management as well. Google and other big companies might be forced to shelve the policy because not all side-projects and innovations see the light of day. In fact, majority of them don’t. This can discourage the employees.
In smaller companies, however, this can give employees the time and resources need for vague ideas to come to fruition. Small businesses have a limited number of employees who might come up with ideas at different points of time. It can be a new app, or a new program, a better solution to a problem, or something that would increase productivity. It can contribute towards sustained growth and ensure that your company always has fresh new ideas to keep you ahead of the competition.
Maintaining Productivity while Encouraging Innovation
Some might argue that the 80/20 rule might decrease productivity. With employees dedicating less time to their core projects and important work, the entire progress of your company might take a hit. You might start producing results at a slower pace and your competition might race on ahead.
Some of these concerns are valid. However, most CIOs manage to find the right balance. Software development and the IT industry require constant innovation but it can only happen when the mind in uncluttered and has room to let creativity flow.
When you hire the best minds in the industry because of their skill and innovativeness, you need to give them room to develop. The 80/20 rule does just that. As far as time management is concerned, you get quality in exchange of a marginal compromise in pace. It’s a worthwhile trade-off in the eyes of many.