Preparing for a FedEx Day

The idea of introducing free time to explore ideas and foster innovation at work has a lot of appeal to me.  Evidence from 3M, Google, Atlassian, and others suggests that many new product features and workplace improvements can be discovered if people are given some slack time to explore.

Coming off a difficult and demanding release, Embotics will be spending some time next week on our first FedEx day.  The timing is great: the release is out the door, we are moving into our new office space, and everyone has a to-do list of things they thought about during the release but didn’t have time to investigate.

As this is our first time running this, we will borrow heavily from the experience of others when planning out our time:

  • Mon 10am: brainstorming session to generate a list of ideas to pull from; some people may have ideas that they wish to keep to themselves for a surprise at the final showing
  • decide on what to work on, either individually or in teams
  • Mon 11am – 6pm+: work as long as you want into the evening; if enough people are around, a food/beer run is in order
  • Mon overnight: if you have the energy and the idea, go for it
  • Tues 9am – 2pm: continue experimenting, with some a few time reminders to help people timebox their project
  • Tues 2pm – 4pm: 3-5 minute demos plus 5 minute brainstorming on where the idea can go
  • Tues after demos: secret ballot voting for best-in-show; the winner gets a free lunch and bragging rights until the next FedEx day

We will foster the following environment:

  • feel free to share ideas and progress as the day progresses
  • any interim feedback should go from strength to strength; use phrases that use ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ to build on what has been done so far
  • it is okay to keep your work to yourself if you are going for a big ‘wow’ factor
  • there is no wrong path to follow and you won’t know what is down the path until you try it
  • it is okay to ask for help

Here’s what I hope we get out of this:

  • a couple of good product ideas, along with a gut of how hard it would be implement them
  • a couple of ideas of how we can improve the way we do our day-to-day work together
  • recharged energy levels and enthusiasm in time for the Christmas break
  • a surprise that makes everyone go ‘Wow, that is a great idea. I didn’t know we could do that.’