We've recently implemented a 1 day in 10 innovation time as a trial. As I have found few examples of people's experiences on the web I thought it would be useful to provide updates as we go.
This is a quick update after the first innovation day.
Well it certainly wasn't the organisation changing event that some articles would have you believe ... but then again it never was going to be (at least not after the first week).
Prior to the actual day, I asked the team to specify what they planned to do with the day. Part of this was to make sure that there was a "plan", part was to vet the plan and make sure it had some business link (even if tenuous and partly to allow for cross pollination of ideas.
Roughly speaking the ideas broke down into:
None of proposed plans disturbed me ... if anything, I found some of them quite exciting and had to resist the temptation to play myself. So all seemed set for the actual innovation day ....
Or so I thought.
On the actual day, only about 40% of the team actually used the time. This was primarily because of a perfect storm of illness & personal problems that meant that projects and Scrum Sprint was behind - thus the relevant team member sacrificed their innovation time to being these back on track.
This was certainly the desired result when I originally set the rules for the trial - so I can't complain when it kicks in - just a shame it was during the first iteration.
So, lesson 1 - if you want to use the innovation time then make sure we have got the day job done first.
Of the 40% carried out, there where still lessons and observations to learn.
Lesson 2 - Have all your prerequisites available before you start. A fair chunk of the work planned involved using Visual Studio 2012 in fresh VMs. This can take a considerable period of time to setup. In this case it ate heavily into the available day, greatly reducing the time for innovation.
Lesson 3 - Have a purposed. One chap started down the road of looking at smart phone application development - only to get a few hours in and not know what he wanted to do with it. As such he changed course for something completely different (CoffeeScript) - which he did have a context and purpose for. He has since been a little obsessed with this and really enjoying looking at both inside and outside of work.
I think we've had a few early glimpses of success;
The last chap is very motivated with Coffee Script and really enjoying getting into it. He is now considering how this technology could be used within the organisation. This is brilliant.
A good chunk of the team are "ready" for next time because they have gone through the pain of setting up their environments. If nothing else, the experience of VS 2012 is good as we will move to it sooner or later.
And finally, one of the planned technologies to be investigated (Responsive Design) has been brought into the foreground. While we never actually had time to investigate it, it was good to raise it into the spotlight. It is likely to become a "management" sponsored project (at least for investigation). All because one of the team raised it (and explained it to me).
We have out next innovation day on the 27th, so I'll update after that.