“Someday” finally arrived

A couple of weeks ago, Vodori’s leadership team gave the keys to the office to our employees and stepped out of their way. The challenge? In 24 hours, you must produce a valuable, shippable thing.

It was our version of Atlassian’s ShipIt Days. We called it “Someday,” inspired by all of those projects that we talk about working on someday when we had more time. In a nut shell, Someday was an unqualified success.

In future blog posts, one of the teams will recap their 24-hour Someday journey, but as one of the organizers for Someday, I wanted to talk about why we decided to put consulting work and product development on hold for an entire day – and why we’re anxious to do it again.

Wearing multiple hats

At Vodori, we’re growing a highly cross-functional team. Consulting requires each of us to be more than a developer, a designer, or a manager. All of us need to understand problems, propose solutions, execute them, and measure their results. The ability for any individual to wear a bunch of hats based on the situation at hand is vital, but pretty hard to nurture with classroom learning or abstract situations.

dan-and-dog-at-someday1

Finishing a project within a short time period and with limited resources is something we do every day, so limiting Someday to a one-day timeline makes for a really good test bed, where every problem imaginable can show up all at once. However, we have found that if you take away the notion of strongly defined roles and focus only on a shippable deliverable, clever people find a way to get it done.

So while some of our participants were excited about the end product of the challenge (and we were, too), the professional social experiment was extremely interesting.

How we did it

A few weeks in advance of Someday, we asked Vodorians to present their project ideas. The ideas were all relevant and valuable. We asked each Vodorian who presented their idea to answer questions about what the project result would do (but not how they would do it), and why it provided value to the company. Doing this helped some people think less tactically and more about value generation, which was our primary goal for all of our work.

Once the project was accepted (and we accepted all of the great ideas), some personal negotiating went on to assemble a team of people. We created a rule that teams should be 2-5 people. Why? We didn’t want people to work on their own on a project, and more than five people seemed to be too many for a project that could be well-managed and completed in a 24-hour period.

someday-working-together

Some people chose to solve a long-standing problem with a quick win. Others swung for the fences with a brand new product idea.

The event started at 3:15 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon, and ended with presentations 24 hours later. Some teams stayed all night, even though there was no obligation to do so.

sleeping-in-definitely

During the event, we made sure that people were well-fed, well-caffeinated, and most of all, encouraged. Morale stayed quite high even when energy levels were fading (We sent out surveys every few hours to keep a pulse on how people were feeling.). The feeling in the office was electric – you could sense something special was going on.

At the end of the 24 hours, some teams created a tool, a new product feature, or business collateral that we could immediately start using the following Monday. Some projects produced process improvements that would drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for repetitive tasks. Others obliterated long-standing items on our to-do list. A couple of teams got a good start growing the seed of an idea for a future product.

Someday ended with lightning-fast presentations by each team. There were smiles, applause, and overall, a great feeling of a job well-done.

What’s next

vodori-video-team

Our first Someday was such a great experience that we’ve already got a plan in place for the next one. While the project output was fantastic, the professional growth you see in participants is tangible. I can’t think of a better way to provide a concentrated shot of valuable experience and team building to the entire company at once.

Want to see one of the projects? Here’s a video that was produced by Vodorians about Vodori in only 24 hours. We hope you like it as much as we do!