Harper Business Books: Setting the Agenda on Work, Leadership, and Growth

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Book Title and Author Byline

The 20% Doctrine

How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business

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Product Description and Author Information

About the Book

Gawker tech-blogger and journalist Ryan Tate reveals how businesses can inspire greater creativity and productivity by giving employees the freedom to experiment and explore their passions.

We're at a crossroads. Many iconic American companies have been bailed out or gone bankrupt, while others are fighting to survive ever-increasing digitization and globalization.

In The 20% Doctrine, Tate examines how companies large and small can incubate valuable innovative advances by making small, specific changes to how work time is approached within their corporate cultures. The concept of “20% Time” originated at Google, but Tate takes examples from powerful businesses like Yahoo!, National Public Radio, Flickr, and the Huffington Post to demonstrate how flexibility and experimentation can revolutionize any business model.

By pursuing their passion projects, employees can fuel innovation and foster new ideas. Only through a new devotion to the unhinged and the ad hoc can American businesses resume a steady pace of development and profitability.

About the Author

Ryan Tate

Photo of Ryan Tate

Ryan Tate is the technology gossip blogger for Gawker.com and a veteran business journalist whose posts are read 2.5 million times by 700,000 people per month. He began his career writing for Upside, the first magazine to focus on the intersection of business and technology. He then went on to write and report for Business 2.0 magazine, the Contra Costa Times, and the San Francisco Business Times. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two cats.


“Useful and inspiring advice for tinkerers.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In any organization a lot of the rank-and-file are ready to start efforts which will contribute to their community, maybe building the bottom line. The 20 % Doctrine shows how organizations have made that work in real life, and how you might make that happen where you work.” —Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craigconnects

“Tate’s enthusiastic but objective study gathers momentum as the book progresses; each chapter builds on the previous one, and he’s quick to point out the practicality of the process. Whether readers are in the corner office or the boiler room, they’ll likely find Tate’s opus to be inspiring and informative.” —Publishers Weekly

“The most innovative companies in America are those that are willing to let employees explore their own pet projects on company time. The 20% Doctrine is a smart, well-written look at this new path to innovation, full of examples that are engaging, thought provoking, and intriguingly diverse.” —Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine