Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Google's Business Strategy: Have No Business Strategy

I just read this article about Google, a company with a lot to teach us about classroom management:

Google might be the world's most innovative company. They accomplish this, in part, by allowing their employees to do 2 things most companies discourage: slacking off and failing.

Okay, not slack off, exactly. But from the outside, Google's 20% Rule, which allows employees to spend one day per week working on whatever project they think has value, seems like a waste of valuable company resources. However, the 20% Rule has led to more than half of Google's successful products.

These successes emerge out of a string of failures, but as any inventor will tell you, failure is just as valuable as success.

In the classroom, we could take some lessons from Google by allowing students to work on projects they deem valuable. And also by encouraging smart failure. (Not on the report card, of course, but that's certainly part of the problem....if everything they do is graded, they will be afraid to fail.)

Curiosity, experiment, trail and error....if it works for scientists and innovative companies, it can certainly work for the classroom.


  1. My husband is a Montessori teacher and I see how much further students take their education when teachers step back.
    So how can I do this in my class? Should I let students come up with one of their writing assignments?
    Or have them figure out a way to present their paper to the class in an interesting/undirected way?
    Or just use that freedom with the blog?

    I should take this advice and think outside my standard methods. I wouldn't mind practicing some smart failure.

  2. Generally I try to accommodate their interests in the paper assignments. Sometimes I have to help them find a more "academic" angle to a certain topic. It does seem like many of the new composition text books include essays on popular culture and technology, etc., to appeal to students. Common Culture, for example, and They Say/I Say.
    One thing I like about free writing/blogging is that, left on their own, students will sometimes stumble on good topics they didn't think could be turned into a college paper, or else they didn't see their own interests as being..uh..interesting.