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Google looks to fast-track employee ideas

Employees working on side projects at Google have found it difficult to get those ideas noticed at the upper ranks of the company, so Google is introducing a formal review process.

Google is looking for ways to make sure its engineers have ways to get their ideas up the food chain before they take them somewhere else.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has begun to hold "innovation reviews," where employees can pitch their bosses on their latest idea or product, who then in turn take the idea before Google's ruling triumvirate of CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It's part of an effort to make sure the ideas conceived in a Google employee's famous "20 percent time" have a chance to make it out of the cubicle.

Google is growing up. No longer a scrappy start-up where ideas could float up to top executives over lunch in the cafeteria, Google is being forced to adapt to life as a big corporation with structure and processes as seen by initiatives such as this one.

It's also grappling with the notion that it's no longer the automatic destination for Silicon Valley's most skilled engineers and marketers who are looking to do cool work and get rich. Companies like Facebook have lots of ex-Google employees within their ranks, and start-ups through the Valley are headed by those with a stint at Google on their resume.

However, if Googlers get the sense that their budding ideas and projects could be treated the same way as the ideas of the brothers Rasmussen--the developers of Google Wave who received a personal blessing from Brin to start their project--perhaps they will be more likely to stay. Google is already trying to identify employees who are likely to leave in hopes of reaching out to them before they head out the door.