Everyone is creative and can develop their creativity. Develop individually, develop as a team. This is my profound belief. It is one of the reasons why we practice making Innovation day in Atola.
What is Innovation day
The day is pretty much our flavor of a hackathon. It’s a fantastic opportunity to play with new ideas, work in various teams, and simply have fun. Nowadays we tend to have Innovation day after almost every software update: once per 2-3 months. It enables the team to pursue the following goals:
- Step back for a day from the usual work
- Innovate and experiment in virtually any directions
- Improve creativity skills
- Self-organize in a cross-functional team
It’s also good to mention Labs Day in MacPaw (SetApp team) that served a source of inspiration to create something similar in my team.
How we run the Innovation day in Atola
We keep the flow quite simple.
1) Whiteboard to collect ideas
Everyone write their ideas on the board to make them visible for the rest of the team. The ideas can be anything beginning from hardware/software features ending marketing or even internal office improvements.
The only limitation: it’s forbidden to take tasks that are already in JIRA :)
2) Emerging of teams
Teams self-organize around ideas or leaders. Those are generally cross-functional teams having the software, hardware, QA engineers, and marketers mixed. Thus it can be any combination in a team that opts for any topic they want.
Some people who didn’t join any team participate in a randomized draw. They randomly get to some team.
The first action a new team takes is to come up with its name. It unites and entertains team members. Usually, we create funny absurd names like “space raccoons” or something :))
3) Synergize and have fun
It all comes down to synergy working together. Here we have the only rule:
- Everyone in the team must be involved in teamwork
Nobody has to feel left out of the discussion. I’d like to stress again that teams self-organize and bridge the gaps if those appear between teammates. This way we learn to understand each other better.
By the way, an innovation day team prefers to lock themselves in a room to avoid exposing their work and results beforehand. It leads to surprises during demo time :-)
4) Demo time
All teams gather in the meeting room and show off with prototypes of their ideas. Prototypes can be in any kind of form:
- slides, pictures, videos
- software mockups
- hardware prototypes made of carton
- mere explanation
How to show? Team decides. Oftentimes, the funnier, the better. Extraordinary or emotional presentations appear to be more impressive for the others.
Creativity development and teamwork are the primary goals of Innovation day. But there’s one more thing.
Everybody is free to add a demonstrated idea to JIRA as a task for further work. It is highly recommended.
It doesn’t mean though that we instantly re-plan everything to get the ideas in production. No. Every nice idea needs validation and improvement. After that, we will be ready to insert the formalized and validated idea into the development pipeline.
Example of fast idea implementation
One of Innovation day team invented customer interview process 4 weeks ago. The idea was additionally streamlined. After all, our marketing director Yulia has successful conducted it with Toronto customers. Just few days ago!
Life is wonderful since you can change it at any given moment. The more you create and communicate, the wider options you have for a change. If you think creatively, there are no correct answers. You are looking more and more for alternatives and figure out there’s a plenty of them. Here’s why Innovation day practice is lovely.
If you need the environment to be creative, it is necessary to allow the existence of divergent information. You should experiment with irrelevant information coming in.
Make your team awesome instead efficient use of resources!