Softwire Employee Innovation Day
1 June 2011, by Emily Hill
We recently had Softwire’s first Employee Innovation Day (EID) – a day on which all employees could do anything they wanted with one simple brief: “it must potentially benefit Softwire in some way”. Employees were working in teams, pairs or on their own to produce something of interest to them. Softwire developers have a certain voracity for personal projects as it is, and it was clear that people were getting in earlier, staying later, and working more intensely on that day than any other in the week!
Some people chose to streamline a monotonous task that they did on a regular basis. Others worked on applications that benefitted Softwire as a whole with immediate effect, such as a new and improved wiki for all our internal documentation. Other individuals and teams produced demos of product ideas or technologies which could potentially be developed and sold by Softwire. One employee’s innovation was to video the day – you can see the results here:
The main aim for everyone involved was to get something finished by the end of the day, be it a demo, a summary of research, or a fully fledged working product. A few days later each team gave a 3-minute pitch on what they had done and prizes were awarded to the best projects and pitches… so there was a bit of competitive spirit in the mix too.
One prize went to a pair of developers who built a distributed Tetris game that could be played on all of the monitors in the office at the same time – a lot of fun but also an opportunity to trial several different cutting-edge technologies to achieve the end result. My project wasn’t quite so cool, but at least it was useful – a web app with a mobile version, purely to order pizza for the office; something that’s required quite regularly when we have evening morale events after work or, say, thirty 3-minute EID pitches to get through
The top prize was a few extra days to continue working on a product idea that we might be able to sell – of course I can’t tell you what the idea was but it was a good’un so watch this space…
So was it all just a bit of fun? Well it was fun and that’s really important to Softwire as it builds morale, but it was a bit more than that too. The new shiny wiki is a boon for the whole company, the individual streamlined processes make people’s jobs a little nicer on a day-to-day basis, employees were able to look into new technologies that might be useful for “real” work, and some of the product ideas will hopefully lead to saleable products. We got a lot out of the day and would recommend the process to any company looking for inspiration from its employees.