I recently read Daniel Pink’s new book, DRIVE, and was intrigued by an idea he talked about that has led other companies to great innovation. An Australian software company called Atlassian offers what they call “Fedex days” to their employees.
Basically the staff has the opportunity to work for 24 hours on projects not directly related to their daily duties. The only requirement for employees during these events is that they have to make a presentation to the company describing what they worked on (erego the name “Fedex Days” because it has to get there overnight). They have had incredible success with this program, and the projects and tools that have been developed during these day-long work marathons have helped to spur innovation and creativity throughout the organization.
On Friday, December 16th, Iridia held its own version of Fedex Days, only instead of 24 hours, the staff were given an afternoon (we had to start somewhere), and the presentation of the idea came after the weekend at our monthly staff meeting on Monday Morning. Eight Iridia employees were divided into two teams and were tasked with two assignments.
The first was to come up with a story that demonstrated Iridia in a pictoral way – one that would resonate with people as to the kind of company Iridia is and how we demonstrate our core values (following up on a corporate storytelling session we held in November).
The second assignment was to create an idea for a new division for Iridia. The parameters were that it had to be some how related to our current mission and offerings, and it had to connect to at least one or more of our core values. The process was energizing and engaging and the staff who participated were enthused about the process and about their ideas.
Interestingly, both groups came up with a “story” that demonstrated Iridia’s high commitment to customer service.
For the idea, Team 1 came up with a program to provide both clinical and consulting services to rural and remote communities to assist with challenges faced by those communities as a result of being remote. Many communities don’t have access to the medical care they need, to education and an understanding of what’s required to live a healthy lifestyle, and even to how to maintain healthy, safe living environments. Services would include risk assessment, disaster/emergency planning, education, and clinical services.
Team 2 came up with the idea of developing a recycling program for medical equipment. The idea is to take non-working medical equipment and ensure it is safely recycled, and to take working but no longer used medical equipment and donate it to people/communities in need both locally and abroad. This new division would solicit used equipment from health authorities and hospitals and ensure they got to the right places (recycling or new owners). It would reduce waste and provide much needed medical equipment to people in communities and countries around the world who could never otherwise afford it.
Again, interestingly, both ideas centred around the same values – corporate responsibility, teamwork and innovation.
We felt the day was a great success and plan to hold more of these sessions throughout the year.