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How do you unleash the creative energies of your team?

You have an office full of people who are smart and creative.

But they’re completely bogged down with everyday work. It’s hard to focus on a big new idea when the usual crud keeps flowing into the inbox.

You need to create a safe space for innovation. Set aside a specific time when it’s OK to work on something new — and it’s OK to ignore everything else.

Idea: Have a science fair like Bazaarvoice does:

bazaarvoicesciencefairAt Bazaarvoice we’ve been holding regular Science Fairs every few months for well over the last year to allow our Engineering team to stretch their creative muscles. The format is simple; we schedule the two-day Science Fairs at times that are not likely to have a lot of conflicts with the regular release cycle, typically over a Thursday and a Friday. When the engineers arrive on Thursday, instead of working on the newest features in our evergreen platform, they get to choose what they want to work on. Teams of engineers (and designers) from across our Implementation, Development, Operations, and Support teams work together all day Thursday—often late into the night—and half of the day Friday to bring their ideas to life. After lunch on Friday the teams present their projects to a panel of judges and finalists, and winners are announced. (Read more here.)

We’re trying to figure out how to do this at our company, with non-technical projects.

(Disclosure: I’m an advisor to Bazaarvoice.)

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  1. Lance October 11, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Cool idea, Andy.
    Things like this seem easier for the technical guys, so it can feel like a chore for those of us doing admin / biz to exercise our creative sides.
    Keep us posted on what you come up with for your company! I’d love to get my team thinking along these lines, too.

  2. Sara McGuyer October 12, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    We did something along these lines at SmallBox, a web design and marketing company in Indy. Our whole team took a week off to focus on internal projects that never see the light of day in a normal, busy work week. Our CEO Jeb named it Factory Week ( see why here:

    We renovated our office space, wrote our company manifesto, started developing a fun side project/app and more. Our team collaborated more than ever before and we now plan to have a Factory Week every 6 months. We’ve even talked about helping others facilitate their own Factory Week.

    In whatever form your “Ignore Everything” experiment emerges, definitely go for it. It certainly is re-invigorating!

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