There’s always talk about the 80-20 ratio in IT (keeping the lights on vs. innovating), and it seems that some companies are interpreting that literally and allowing their employees to dedicate 20 per cent of their working time to personal innovation.
It’s telling that some of the most successful companies use this method (think Google and 3M). Some of the innovations can be internally focused, such as a specific application useful to employees, or externally focused. Obviously, it can have wonderful results (like the sticky note). But it seems a bit risky for a company that doesn’t have much money to throw around to let their employees loose.