Google engineers all have “20 percent time” in which they’re free to pursue projects they’re passionate about.
From Eric Schmidt on down, Google managers divvy up their time into three parts -- the core business of search and advertising, related projects, and entirely new businesses.
What do you do with your 20 percent time?
Well, 20 percent time applies to the technical staff. It does not apply to sales or management. Here’s how it works for management: We spend 70 percent of our time on core search and ads. We spend 20 percent on adjacent businesses, ones related to the core businesses in some interesting way. Examples of that would be Google News, Google Earth, and Google Local. And then 10 percent of our time should be on things that are truly new. An example there would be the Wi-Fi initiative -- which I haven’t kept up with myself. God knows what they’ve done in the last week. I’ve been too busy on core search and ads.
From: Bussiness 2.0 interview with Eric Schmidt