Saturday, September 15, 2012

A twist on innovation

In a recent article, we learn that the new head of the "Advanced Technology and Projects" group at Google's Motorola hires her people for only two years. That's a bit unusual, but apparently the commitment to the exit is real: when she was at DARPA leading a similar group, she had their exit date imprinted on their identity badge!

Speaking about her group at Google/Motorola, Regina Dugan says:

“It’s a small, lean and agile group that is unafraid of failure,” she said, and it will “celebrate impatience.”

She is hiring metal scientists, acoustics engineers and artificial intelligence experts. They will work for her for only two years so they feel a sense of urgency, she said, an idea she borrowed from Darpa, where people wear their resignation date on their name tags.

I've heard of exit strategies, and exit dates, but I don't think I ever got the memo on this one: taking your best and brightest and making them two-year temps. Maybe it instills a sense of urgency; maybe it defeats lethargy; maybe it drives innovation to the market faster.

And, maybe private industry is not government where a culture of 'temporary', even at the highest level, is not at all unusual. So, we'll have to see how this one plays out. I don't think this is the way that Apple, Pixar, and Intel play the game.

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