Those of you that follow my thoughts know that I tend to oscillate between geeking out about details like special optimizer hints and spending time musing on larger scope items like staff management.

Lately I’ve been on the staff management brainwave.  I’ve started reading Alvin Toffler’s PowerShift.  I know, it’s probably dated.  And I’ve seen how Toffler tends to believe his own press a bit much.  And yes, the book is repetitive. :-)

But one of the neat nuggets in there talks about how a company can be judged by the sum total of the IQ of its employees.  How companies are trying to get more than 8 hours of repetitive work out its workforce.

It’s an interesting problem.  You want employees to be creative and come up with their own ideas, but you also want them to be “team players” and work hard to implement ideas that they don’t always agree with.

Google’s famous for their “support” of “off-time” projects.  But I’ve seen that many places ignore their example, claiming that Google “can afford” to do that.

I’m not so sure that Google’s approach is the only one that can be successful.  I like to think that just by not “running the team” so hot you can give ideas room to grow.  I do think that the 20% number if probably right though — but it doesn’t need to be formalized.  Just run your people at 80% most of the time — and when they aren’t self-starters, just give them off-topic work exercises or ways to self-educate.

I’ve got a scary / funny story about a company trying to make sure it got every last creative ounce out of its staff…  I’ll save that for a later post.

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