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Innovation Days for Small Teams

D8a22098f20d4c80e6a533558a54fd2f?s=47 Brian Garside
November 14, 2012

Innovation Days for Small Teams

This talk was delivered at the DIG (Digital Interactive Gaming) conference in London, Ontario on November 14, 2012.

It's intended to help people get inspired by learning about how we run our innovation days at The Info-Tech Research Group.


Brian Garside

November 14, 2012


  1. Innovation Days for Small Teams

  2. None

  4. Innovation Days What they are, why they are important

  5. Why do we need Innovation Days? ✴We pay our people

    well ✴ We don’t have time to do this ✴ We are afraid we won’t see value
  6. The Manager’s Job Improve Performance Keep People Happy

  7. Motivation Intrinsic vs Extrinsic

  8. Money Can’t Buy Love Money is a a point

  9. Three Factors that lead to Better Performance and Personal Satisfaction

    ✴Autonomy ✴Mastery ✴Purpose
  10. Autonomy The desire to be self-directed

  11. Mastery The opportunity to get better at something

  12. Purpose The belief that what you’re doing matters

  13. But how?

  14. Innovation Days! Intrinsic motivation through innovation

  15. <Boring History>

  16. Attribution: Flickr User TimothyJ

  17. None
  18. None
  19. None
  20. None
  21. Google Time ✴20% of your time ✴Anything you want to

    do ✴Gmail ✴Google Wave ✴Chrome Operating System
  22. Innovation Days ✴Once a Quarter ✴24 Hours ✴Anything you want

    to do*
  23. NOW WAIT JUST A MINUTE! You’re saying that people will

    get together and work hard on really cool things for nothing more than a little recognition? I don’t believe it!
  24. None
  25. None
  26. Open Source Software Tons of examples of tons of developers

    giving tons of time
  27. </Boring History>

  28. Innovation Days! Intrinsic motivation through innovation

  29. Benefits of Innovation Days ✴Improved Morale ✴Better Developers ✴Better Relationships

    ✴Cool Shippable Products
  30. Innovation Day Setups Three Different Ways We Have Set Up

    Innovation Days
  31. Pre-Selected Teams

  32. Pre-Selected Teams •The organizer chose teams, put 6-8 people together

    on a team •Looked at fit, skill sets, and strong leadership •Pros: Inclusion, teams were well balanced •Cons: Lack of autonomy, not necessarily common goals
  33. Self-Selected Teams

  34. Self-Selected Teams •Allowed teams to self organize, with as many

    or as few people as you wanted to have •Pros: Autonomy, common goals •Cons: Not balanced, sometimes exclusionary
  35. Hybrid Selection

  36. Hybrid Selection •Teams were allowed to self select into 2-8

    person teams, people not on a team were assigned to teams that they would fit. •Pros: Common goals, primarily self selected, inclusionary •Cons: Not completely autonomous
  37. This is how we Innovate! What does an average Innovation

    Day look like?
  38. Assigning an Organizer

  39. Team Creation •A flurry of emails •A lot of collusion

    •Ideas are shared •Varied skill sets looked at •Individuals who don’t have a team let the organizer know
  40. Idea Brainstorm •The first 30 minutes of the day is

    for idea brainstorming •Come up with an idea, how you’ll do it, and a pitch • (When we moved to self selection, we had this done before launch day)
  41. Pitch Meeting •The department gets together •Pitches are presented •Bad

    pitches are rejected via boos (so far, never happened)
  42. Work on the Idea •You have until noon the next

    day to work on your idea •No rules around where you work •No rules around how long you work •One output needs to be a slide presentation
  43. Results Meeting •Department gathers together at noon the next day

    •Executives from the rest of the company are invited •There is cake and beer •Teams present their innovation along with next steps
  44. Voting and the Winner All of the innovation ideas are

    put on a board Everyone puts a sticky note under the idea they think should win The team that is voted the winner gets a cool iron-on patch
  45. The Aftermath The winning team is allowed to complete their

    innovation idea. Executives can sponsor other ideas and have them completed.
  46. LET’S INNOVATE! Time to form teams

  47. Form Teams! (assigned teams)

  48. Brainstorm an Idea Subject: Specific improvement to the DIG Conference

  49. What you’re going to do: Get together with your teams.

    Figure out an idea. Make a 30 second pitch Assign a leader to deliver the pitch to the room
  50. You have 5 minutes... and...go!

  51. The Pitches

  52. LET’S VOTE!!!

  53. What We Learned

  54. Lessons Learned: •Include Executives at the review meeting •Size of

    team can be anything from 2-8 comfortably •We don’t let people opt out •Include “next steps” with a rough project breakdown •Self selection is better than assignments
  55. How to succeed at Innovation Days DO NOT offer a

  56. How to succeed at Innovation Days Make it MANDATORY

  57. How to succeed at Innovation Days Don’t make RULES*

  58. How to succeed at Innovation Days Don’t assign IDEAS

  59. How to succeed at Innovation Days Arrange teams to Start
  60. How to succeed at Innovation Days Don’t let poison Flourish
  61. Let me repeat that... “Some people will look forward to

    working 24 hours straight and will count down the days until they can do it again.”
  62. BUT, BUT, BUT! ✴We pay our people well ✴ We

    don’t have time to do this ✴ We are afraid we won’t see value
  63. We Pay Our People Well!

  64. We don’t have time!

  65. We might not see value!

  66. Info-Tech’s Innovations

  67. Innovation: “Likes” on content Led to related items suggestions (if

    you like this, you may like that). Helped add interactivity to a fairly static website. Increased page views because of deep linking.
  68. Innovation: Vendor Landscape App Improved SEO lead generation Created a

    better experience for our customers Saw significant traffic increase to the Vendor Landscape area
  69. Innovation: Performance Evaluation Application Simplified the creation and delivery of

    twice annual performance evaluations Is being streamlined and productized
  70. Innovation: IT Blog One place to keep all of our

    cool stuff Good place to direct people to Our sales force likes the different perspective
  71. Innovation: 147 Points of Technical Debt Reduction 5 People, working

    for 24 hours Did the work of 7 people for 5 days Bonded as a team
  72. Innovation: Social Media Lead Generation Higher conversions More sales ready

    leads Lower acquisition cost for new customers
  73. Innovation: Training Decks/ New Hire Onboarding Plan Made bringing new

    people on board easy First week retrospectives have improved
  74. Not the tip of the iceberg!

  75. Info-Tech’s Innovations often become our most valuable projects

  76. Watch This Talk On Our Blog Innovation Days for Small

  77. @briangarside Tag Tweets with #diginnovate Let’s continue the conversation on

    Twitter #diginnovate
  78. Info-Tech is Hiring!

  79. ReWork by 37 Signals: This talk was inspired by:

    Drive by Daniel Pink: The Trenches (webcomic):