Letting Engineering Manage the Backlog

The Product Managers that work for me are hyper focused on delivering quality for our customers continuously.  They are constantly finding the simple solutions for our current biggest problem and executing with agility.  However, I've noticed that this leaves only a little room for Engineers to innovate on customer facing problems.  Engineering uses their extra time working on "technical debt".   


I've often wondered about innovating in something like Google 20% time and the way that Facebook gives their engineers more control.  Could we slice off some time for the engineers to work on the parts of our business that they see as a priority.  

Potential issues will be making sure the business feels like they are getting valuable product and time boxing the effort.  

I like the idea of giving all the engineers 2 weeks of time to work on this.  And by giving them extensive prep time with direct meetings with customers.  I'm also thinking that we potentially need a quick review of each engineers idea before we start they are building something that is in the right ballpark.  

Soon I'm going to see how the rest of our organization reacts to this idea.  I'll update the blog with what we end up doing.  

If anyone has any experience with setting up something like this, I'd love to hear your experience.