In continuation of our “In the Wild” series, which highlights companies from around the world who’ve already taken their first whack at ShipIt Day, this week’s feature spotlights Ambientia in Finland.  Specializing in digital business and communications, as well as social solutions, Ambientia provides consultation, design, planning and implementation of websites and various web-applications for leading enterprises on the international market. Henri Sora, Director of Technology and Services, first implemented ShipIt Day in November of 2010, noting the need to motivate his developers and reinvigorate the company’s work environment. As an example, Henri describes how one employee presented a high-impact idea at ShipIt Day and noted “that he had the idea for three years. Imagine [that]!  I was really astonished that we had never discussed the idea before. Still it is hard for me to believe that we have been having this limiting environment for new ideas.”

Since then, Ambientia has held a total of 5 ShipIt Days, culminating in roughly 30 projects and a change in the company’s work culture to be more open and supportive of creativity. Ambientia is a great inspiration for other companies looking to adopt a similar program, and demonstrates how ShipIt Day can help revitalize a company’s energy and its employees’ passions after the initial high has worn off. “In sum, the value… of a ShipIt Day program goes way beyond mere money.  A [thoughtfully]-led ShipIt Day, where the proper environment is created, can galvanize and cohere the organization’s work force.”  Read on to learn more about ShipIt Day at Ambientia.

How did you hear about ShipIt Day?

I first read about ShipIt Day in Atlassian’s blog, but when I read the book [Drive] by Dan Pink, I better understood the background behind why such a program works. This was important in helping me sell the idea to our Management Team and and motivating them to try to it. I had been wanting to organize some kind of similar event to spark creativity and innovation – ShipIt Day gave me the recipe.

What inspired you to about the program?

Well, the whole idea came from “motivating” our developers. As you know, when you are doing sprint after sprint after sprint, coding starts to feel like… work. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to experience flow, and also to have the opportunity to experiment with heartfelt ideas.

What have you done through ShipIt Day?

We are a professional services organization working with Liferay and [Atlassian] products, so our work is obviously similar. The main categories of ShipIt Day projects we’ve seen are:

  • Improvements and fixes to Liferay and Confluence
  • Proof of concepts
  • Process and tool improvements
  • Reusable templates for Liferay

We have also blogged about some of the results. Our guys have been given permission to work with anybody and anything they like to do  – and still they have been doing things that directly benefit the company as a whole. To me this is an enormous sign of trustworthiness. It is also one major selling point for ShipIt Day.

How many projects has Ambientia completed through ShipIt Day?

The exact figure for projects is around 30 after our fifth ShipIt Day.

How many people have participated, and what departments were involved?

We have had about 40 people regularly attending our ShipIt Days, and coming from departments related to our core software engineering field (i.e., software development and user experience development).

Have any of the projects significantly impacted your business?

Well, none of the projects have had such a direct impact at the moment.  I must say that I do not think that will be the case, nor is it the primary focus.  To me, the main objective is motivating employees, and I think ShipIt Day has been an excellent tool for such.  And while I do not have exact figures on increasing employee motivation, but the verbal feedback has been very positive – our guys countdown the days to these events. This is enough for me. If one of the projects ends up impacting our core business, it is an additional bonus.

In sum, ShipIt Day has enriched and enforced Ambientia’s working culture. The days are an excellent way to rediscover why most of us started in software development in the first place. I can truly recommend the ShipIt Day to any organization. I’ve actually given three speeches about ShipIt Day (one of which was at Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association, and another at a Software Success Stories Recruitment event). Please contact me at @henrisora if I can help!

Sound interesting?

Want to try ShipIt Day at your company? Apply to win a ShipIt Day hosted by Atlassian here! The deadline is December 21st, 10:00pm (PST), which means you have ONE day left to submit your application – get on it!

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