Once a quarter, the energy seems to explode. On ShipIt Day, the offices of Australian software company Atlassian buzz with ideas.
The quarterly ideas lab is a kind of survival strategy for Atlassian, which has products such as Jira, Confluence, and Trello in its portfolio and serves more than 240,000 customers worldwide. Competition in the industry is tough.
So founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes asked themselves: How do we get our developers to think outside the box? And how do we find the innovative products that will delight our customers in the future?
80-20 rule? Brilliant – but costly.
They looked at Google’s 80-20 rule with a bit of envy. Engineers and programmers can spend one-fifth of their workweek on new and unusual ideas. This 20-Percent-Time is supposed is supposed to keep the company running while making room for innovation and progress.
But for a mid-sized company like Atlassian, this would have been a hell of an investment. After all, we’re talking about four days a month.
So, they started on a smaller scale: With one pilot day per quarter. The results, presented 24 hours later over pizza and beer, were so good that it is now an integral part of the company culture. ShipIt Day is the name of the game.
ShipIt Days. Just plain simple. And simply good.
The recipe requires two ingredients: freedom and some ground rules.
On four Thursdays a year, employees put their real jobs on the backburner for 24 hours and let their minds wander. Individually or in groups, they work on the ideas and solutions they think are the best.
There are only three simple requirements:
- First, the idea must be new.
- Second, the idea must be outside the scope of day-to-day business.
- And third, the idea must be related to the company.
And just as a good logistics company delivers packages overnight, employees have to deliver by the next day: Friday at 2 p.m. is ShipIt Day! No crude ideas, no vaguely formulated plans, but small prototypes that are presented to colleagues. The best ideas are selected immediately afterwards.
The original ShipIt Day has become a worldwide event. It is held in 15 countries. Employees even post their ideas for ShipIt Day on a wiki in advance, gather feedback, form their teams, and start working together outside of ShipIt Days.
The prototypes they develop include solutions to problems with existing software. But they also include completely new applications that go straight to sales. „We see everything from practical to inspiring, simple to insane, technical to non-technical,“ Atlassian writes on its website.
A Vibrant Culture of Innovation
A little freedom and a few rules can unleash an explosion of ideas, as Atlassian’s experience shows. Not only does it increase motivation and fun in the workplace. It also lays the foundation for a culture of continuous innovation.
By comparison, traditional methods such as idea contests and suggestion schemes are not very effective. The promise of a reward – especially if the employee has to invest additional time – is not enough to trigger a creative supernova.
But the idea of „I’ll do it because it’s cool“ – during work hours and with the approval of my boss – can certainly motivate people to creative excellence.
And now it’s your turn
I often suggest this in my keynote speeches: Why not try a Shipit Day in your team or organization?
1. ShipIt Days deliver fast results.
You will be amazed at what a focused and committed team can accomplish in just 24 hours.
2. ShipIt Days give employees a chance to solve problems.
Problems that they know exist in the company, but never find the time to solve in their daily business.
3. ShipIt Days reduce the number of excuses.
Saying „I’d like to work on new ideas, but I don’t have time“ no longer works. Because ShipIt Day means „Here’s some time for you. Make something of it!
4. ShipIt Days break the silo mentality.
Divisional thinking and silo mentality are significantly reduced. ShipIt Days invite collaboration across teams and departments.
5. ShipIt Days encourage innovation.
When you have a lot of smart people working for you, it would be foolish not to tap into their intelligence and ingenuity. After all, fresh and clever ideas should come from all parts of the company, all functions, and all levels of hierarchy.
6. ShipIt Days are highly motivating.
Almost everyone wants to work on something cool. And when you get to decide HOW and WITH WHOM to do it, that’s even more motivating!
7. ShipIt Days are fun.
There is pizza. There are drinks. There is community. There is laughter, failure, excitement, and wonder. The atmosphere at ShipIt-Days is great. Many people leave feeling like a new person.
Ready to get started?
Here are some resources to help you get started with ShipIt Days:
Video: Watch „ShipIt – Inside Atlassian’s Innovation Ritual“ to gain insights into the ShipIt Day.
FAQs: Visit the „ShipIt Day FAQs“ page for detailed information on organizing and participating in ShipIt Days.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to tap into the power of ShipIt Days. With their simple yet effective approach, these events can spark innovation, foster creativity, and drive your organization to new heights of success.
Are you ready to give it a try?