Success on the Side — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

セロハンテープ(Scotch Tape)がRichard Drewという一社員よって開発されたというのは割合有名な話だ。これに対する3Mの考えは、

The humbling conclusion followed: It is hard for even experts to predict or plan the next innovation, and thus all employees, especially those on the front lines, should have a part in allocating R&D resources.


So 3M implemented a groundbreaking policy called the 15-percent-time rule: regardless of their assignments, 3M technical employees were encouraged to devote 15 percent of their paid working hours to independent projects.

これによって生まれたのが有名な15-percent-time ruleだ。社員は労働時間の15%を独立プロジェクトに当てることが奨励される。

Jefferson’s side project—sharpened and clarified by editors committed to honing its essential message for maximum popular appeal—now represented the core of revolutionary values with a clarity that none of its creators had exactly foreseen at the time.


They cite first the enormous goodwill generated internally: “20-percent time sends a strong message of trust to the engineers,” says Marissa Mayer, Google vice president of search products and user experience. Then there is the actual product output which of late includes Google Suggest (auto-filled queries) and Orkut (a social network). In a speech a couple of years ago, Mayer said about 50 percent of new Google products got their start in 20 percent time.


Bottom-up product development of this sort has held various names over the years. German scholar Peter Augsdorfer studies the phenomenon of “bootlegging” in companies, which he defines as unauthorized innovative activity that the employees themselves define and secretly organize.


True undercover work is less common than “skunk works,” a trademarked term from Lockheed Martin to refer to authorized bootlegging. There, higher-ups direct a business group to work on projects autonomously so as to avoid bureaucratic morass.

スカンクワークス(skunk works)もこれに近い。こちらは変わったプロジェクトを会社の上の人間の元で進めることを指す。組織における面倒を避けてイノベーションを推進するのが狙いだ。

Apple used to have a skunk works program in the 1980s but has discontinued it, and does not offer side-project time to employees. Over the past decade it has reined in its more experimental R&D experiments. “Apple’s $489 million R&D spend is a fraction of its larger competitors. But by rigorously focusing its development resources on a short list of projects with the greatest potential, the company created an innovation machine,” noted a Booz Allen report in 2005.


A case-by-case policy means the company is spared an across-the-board hit of 20 percent of all employee time, 365 days a year.



First, they highlight the random circumstances that can give rise to important inspiration. Second, they promote experimentation—not abstract brainstorming—because the “aha!” moment does not always happen at the outset, as mythologized, but somewhere in the middle of the process. Third, they underscore not the mad, brilliant scientist at the top but the collective brainpower of all employees, especially those close to the customer—Richard Drew at 3M, Paul Buchheit at Google. These people are critical to sustaining innovation over the long term.


  1. アイデアは予期しないところでやってくる
  2. アイデアは頭で考えて発見されるのではなく、実際に何かを進めるうちに出てくる
  3. 重要なのは社員全員の総合的な力、特に顧客に近い社員のそれである

最近ではこれに加えMITのEric von Hippelが主張するユーザー・イノベーション、BerkeleyのHenry Chesbroughによるオープン・イノベーションといった概念が企業・研究所主導による従来型のイノベーションと対比されている。


サイドプロジェクト” への2件のコメント

  1. >アイデアは頭で考えて発見されるのではなく、実際に何かを進めるうちに出てくる


  2. >研究する時にも大事な視点ですね。