In case you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty excited about our ShipIt Days around here. Every quarter, we give employees the chance to work on anything that relates to our products, and deliver a solution within 24 hours. Last week, we launched a campaign to share ShipIt Day with one lucky organization that needs a kick of innovation, Atlassian-style. Check out the page we put together for further details. In celebration of ShipIt Day, we’ll be highlighting several companies over the coming weeks that have already begun experimenting with their own ShipIt Days.
To start, we spoke with Filip Chereches-Tosa, Managing Director at a Romanian company called Lateral. Lateral is a design and technology company with a “passion for tangible business results (software, design, consulting, mobile).” Since the company’s inaugural ShipIt Day in the fall of 2009, Lateral has hosted a total of 6 ShipIt Days. As the company has grown, so too has the influence of ShipIt Day on the company’s culture–in fact, it has become one of the key selling points in the company’s recruiting practices. Read on to learn more about how ShipIt Day has impacted Lateral and become an integral part of the company’s success.
How did you hear about ShipIt Day?
Ciprian Morar, our CEO, had a similar idea about stimulating creativity but wasn’t 100% on how to frame it; so, he did some research online and discovered “ShipIt Day.” He loved the concept and immediately launched an internal initiative.
What inspired you about the program?
To build a functional product in 1 day is sort of a Holy Grail for us. We loved this constraint, and what it would require to get us moving quickly enough and cut-off the non-essentials. ShipIt Day was both a challenge and an experiment.
How many projects have been completed through ShipIt Days?
We have had around 6 ShipIt Days since the fall of 2009, with 5-15 projects at each event.
How many people participated, and what departments were involved?
It is worth mentioning that our company grew from about 15 people in 2009 to 35 at the moment. Historically, only developers have participated; however, during our most recent ShipIt Day in October of 2011, we had people from our QA, Financial and Administrative departments participate as well. We’ve always encouraged everyone to get involved.
Have any of the projects significantly impacted your business?
Have you been able to quantify the impact of ShipIt Day?
We’re always thinking of how to optimize the ShipIt Day output in ways that directly and positively impact our business. One is to add new constraints to the projects, such as getting at least 3 customers who are willing to pay for the resulting product. Another idea is to have people work only on our existing products and find ways to make them better. We’re also considering playing with the format by bringing everyone together into one or two large teams and having them laser-focused on one or two projects, rather than having everyone working in independent groups as they do now. We like to experiment.
How has ShipIt Day impacted employees?
ShipIt Day has definitely impacted employees; we’ve never before seen such a spike in creativity, innovation and productivity, all in one day. People are motivated to participate because they get a chance to do something different from what they do every other work day. And it’s fascinating to see how employees go outside of their comfort zones and embrace the constraints.
Moreover, it’s not just employees who love ShipIt Day, but also the candidates we interview for our job openings; they’re consistently excited about the event. It actually carries significant weight in attracting high-profile candidates that have multiple offers from other companies.
How has ShipIt Day impacted your company’s culture?
One of the greatest effects is a shift in the mindset of our employees. Having experienced the adrenaline rush of ShipIt Days and the empowering feeling of having delivered something tangible, they are challenged to bring the same attitude to their daily activities and their approach to work. We’re builders, and we can’t afford to waste time and energy on non-essential stuff. ShipIt Day teaches people what’s essential and what’s not.
A Few Highlights:
- www.candidatebase.com – A tool for candidate management
- http://www.annotately.com/ – A tool to add notes on any website and share them with others
- A hosted, SaaS platform for creating job sites based on the open source www.jobberBase.com platform we built a few years back
- An Arduino-powered tank controlled via WiFi from a web page
- Lots of Google Maps mash-ups, Chrome & Firefox extensions, and iPhone apps done by people without previous iPhone dev experience
Want to try a ShipIt Day at your company? Apply to win ShipIt Day hosted by Atlassian here!