IDG Answers is a community of experts who are passionate about technology. Ask a question or answer one below.
While I can see upper management viewing this as goof off time, I think they are being short sighted. You mented several examples of products that resulted, at least in part, from 20% time. While they do have the Google X Labs where new and frankly exciting projects are developed, can there really be any doubt that having hundreds of very talented people working one day a week on pet projects will not be duplicated by a development team working on what they are told? I think that the more people there are working "off script", the more likely it is that something truly innovative will result.