Home > innovation, success > a 20% model for the individual | work and play

a 20% model for the individual | work and play

the picture above is part of a great sociological experiment which found that work productivity does not increase with reward like money but rather with a sense of autonomy. this was an experiment created by a behavioral scientist named karl duncker in 1945.

first a group was asked to take the above materials and attach the candle to the wall in such a way that it would not drip on the table. those incentivized by money were less likely to complete the task faster than who were prompted to do the problem without any reward or extrinsic gain.

think about how you would accomplish this feet, and then click read more to see the end result of the experiment.

this is the result, not many people first look at this problem and think about emptying the box the tacks and using the box as a tool. what does this mean? well this is a thought on innovation, the great number of studies done on this experiment suggest that things like money and material bonuses don’t bring creativity, and forward thinking to problems. thinking in a creative way is something highly valued in business, and so it should be in your individual lives. in fact these studies found that higher and higher incentives led to worse performance on the task.

follow up studies were done and these studies implied that giving people autonomy, and the ability to master a task were far more effective than financial incentives.

sad to say only a few companies have began using the findings from this study to their advantage. one of those companies is google. in the book planet google it was revealed that the company wanted to come up with a model that would facilitate what the study implies. so they came up with a tone of things, and one very great idea was 20% time. 20% of the time google employees can come up with their own ideas and foster those ideas. that gives their employees three key ingredients to be innovative: autonomy, purpose, and the ability to master their craft.

how does this apply to you and your indivation?

20% time has a great application to you as an individual especially if you have a job within an organization, and if you are beginning a minimalist lifestyle surrounded by people who are the opposite. take your typical week and break it down into a pie chart, and after evaluating it make room for that 20% time. this will give you the three must haves that foster creativity and innovation.


allow yourself to be fully autonomous as an individual. that’s means that the social chatter and expectations don’t matter much because you like google’s employees are not less, or better of a human being than those surrounding you but different, and special. cut the chatter out by first surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and your potential. the key point in some cases may be potential, because maybe you have not found your niche for work, or social situations yet. autonomy will also give you control of yourself and will enable you to be a better minimalist.


whether it be your day job or your own small business, make sure that you are doing your research. don’t just get by on what other people do. when a customer, patron, or patient ask you a question be able to present the facts and reasoning behind the answer. allow yourself to be an expert even if your workplace does not allow those opportunities or give that instruction. the key to mastery or having an interest in going beyond to gain knowledge is your own belief that what you learn will matter in your life, long term. truth is that knowledge in a particular subject does have long term benefits. think about it, if i am a carpenter that has been rained out and am waiting to build, instead of twiddling my thumbs i get in touch with our wood supplier and start getting education on some process. how does this benefit me? how are those benefits/skills transferable even into fields unrelated to carpentry.


you must have purpose to be a creative and innovative thinker, having vision is a great thing. what is your purpose in life, what is the mission statement at your day job or in your business, and do you believe in it. if it’s a day job don’t think about what others do to reflect the mission think about the mission as an ideal and a fact, how does that make you feel about what you do for a living?

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