About ten days ago, as I found myself researching a new book, I asked if any of you knew of some amazing amateur athletes. In emails, in the comment section, and even in one enterprising reader’s phone call, you offered lots of amazing suggestions. Thank you.

Now I’ve got another question — and I figured I’d crowdsource this one, too. Do you know of any companies that let their employees spend a portion of their time working on anything they want? I know Google does this — and 3M and Genentech have had such programs. But do you know of any others, particularly companies that aren’t in the U.S.?

If so, drop me a note or leave a comment. Once again, I’m grateful for the opportunity to tap your brains.

6 Responses to “Know of any radical companies?”

  1. Kristin says:

    When Pfizer had a headquarters in Ann Arbor, I believe they gave folks time off to volunteer in local schools.

  2. marian pontz says:

    I show my students the video fortune magazine did on Zappos. Originally an on line shoe company they have expanded into other lines and the notions of what a company’s culture must look and feel like.

  3. Steve T says:

    Summerhill School in Suffolk, England extends the notion to students–since 1921: http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/

  4. john vail says:

    I don’t know if it is still the case, but at one time the US Forest Service recruited several distinguished scientists to work on whatever they wanted to. I encountered this program while working on forest planning as a representative of the Sierra Club, and companies that clearcut claimed that clearcutting increased biodiversity. In a certain sense – counting the number of species in a given area before and after a clearcut – this could be true. A USFS researcher with this kind of “do what you want” portfolio took on the problem of how you define, measure, and assign values to biodiversity. He was working out of North Carolina State University at the time, in the early 90s.

  5. Chris Reckling says:

    IBM does have something called “Think Friday” where you are supposed to spend time Friday afternoons doing something non-routine – inventing, for example, or studying something new. However, I’m sure its practice varies by manager and location. I believe this is a worldwide program.
    Chris

  6. Melissa Bradford says:

    Sudbury schools allow their staff to spend time in any way they want. The catch is, they are elected by the student body, so they do have to respond to the voters’ (students’) needs if they want to get re-elected (rehired) each year.

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