2 Neurones & 1 Camera

Olivier Thereaux

Three Innovation Models

Une version française de cet article, intitulée Trois modèles d’innovation, est disponible sur le Pheromone Lab.


A current poster child of innovation management, Google has been following the McKnight and 3M doctrine: every employee is entitled to dedicate 20% of their time to experiment on projects of their liking. The most promising projects started by googlers may have a chance of becoming Google products, while the rest is still a good source of training. Also interesting is the pollination and competition factors: because employees need to “sell” their work to their colleagues through a peer-review system directly inspired from academia, a sane (?) competition atmosphere keeps everyone working their best.

I do not know, however, if Google employees are forced to deliver 5 days’ worth of work in 4 days, whether this 20% is done as overtime, or whether the sanctuary of “free time” is actually respected.

Stefan Sagmeister

Notable designer Sagmeister once decided that a way to keep his design team creative was to take a sabbatical year off every 7 years. During his year off, he usually travels, toys with ideas and prototypes, builds fun projects – all without the usual pressure of having to deliver.

I ignore, however, if Sagmeister pays his staff during that sabbatical, or if they all go and work elsewhere for a year and get hired back when he comes home…

Ferran Adria and El Bulli

In terms of culinary hype, few restaurants match Barcelona’s “El Bulli”, a restaurant that opens only 6 months a year. Adria and his team spend the other 6 months experimenting in their lab, slowly and carefully designing the next season’s menu. And when they get back, all reservations for the year are usually filled within the span of a day.

Alas, it seems the Michelin 3-stars restaurant will be closing soon… by lack of profits? Or to try and reinvent itself?

Investing in time

What do these three organizations have in common? They all invest time – giving their employees a chance to escape the daily grind of production and experiment. The main difference is how long, and how frequent, is that “free time”: 1 year every 7 years, 6 months a year… or 1 day a week?


What happened to mashups?


Mashups were all the rage but a few years ago! Fast forward a few years, and the world mashup is hardly ever uttered - or at least, very seldom without a hint of sarcasm. What happened?

Read more

#ald10: looking for female role models


Read more