The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business

Book review by Deane Barker
tags: innovation
Ryan Tate

A collection of stories about 20% and “skunkworks” projects and what makes them tick.

The stories were interesting – the first ones were slanted toward tech, and the later stories branched out – but I was having trouble drawing any common principles out of it. This was remedied somewhat in the conclusion where the author discussed the commonalities which made the projects all tick.

I found myself getting lost in some of the stories – they’re written with a journalistic bent, and I found myself not really caring about the book topic after a while.

Did I learn anything? Maybe a few things: embrace time constraints to pair your project down to the bare essentials, make friends in high places when you don’t need them so you can call on them when you do, and explicitly ask people to be involved and contribute. These points are all supported by various anecdotes throughout the book.

A solid effort, and I’m glad I read it. But not life-changing.

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