This is the 3rd post in our Fully Carsonified series where we give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we run our Team. This post focuses on how we generate ideas.
“Ideas are fragile things” , says Jonathan Ive, and we agree! People need encouragement and support in order to grow their ideas and build on them. We’ll probably never know how many great ideas fall by the wayside for want of some basic encouragement.
At Carsonified we try to give people time to be creative. Apart from giving them some valuable headspace every Friday we also like to come together every six months or so to work on a creative project as a team.
We call it Idea Week. It’s a week where we turn off our e-mail, put the phones on voicemail and shut down all other distractions. Then we all get together and come up with one project that we would like to work on together that week. This could be a software application, website or real world object or a combination of all three! We decide.
The week’s schedule is roughly like this:
- am: Throw around ideas and decide on what kind of project we’ll work on.
- pm: Allocate tasks to each team member
- am: Quick discussion to discuss logistics. Work starts on building the project (design, development, copy writing, marketing, etc)
- pm: Report on progress
- am: Whole team working on their individual area of the project
- pm: Report on progress and tweaks to ensure deadline is met. Announce project to web industry and drum up to pre-launch interest
- am: Final testing and tweaks
- pm: Launch project
- evening: Celebrate with a few beers
The Benefits of Idea Week
1) A Change of Scenery for All
It gets you away from your desk and your day-to-day job. A change is good for most of us. Although some people with too much work to do may feel stressed that they are taking a week out from their work, they are usually the people who will most benefit from a a change of scenery.
2) Encourages Team Work
Team work is very important for morale and it also fosters friendships. You may also discover that someone in your team has a talent for something and you had no idea they had it.
3) Pride in Your Work
If you hit the deadline and launch your project on time then the finished project will instill a sense of pride in you and your team. Against the odds, you created something worthwhile in just four days! That’s an achievement.
4) Great PR for You and Your Company
A great by-product of idea week is the PR that the project creates for you and your company. The site that we created in our very first idea week saw over 11,000 visits in a couple of days. That much attention, from nowhere, can only be good.
Results of Idea Week
Turning a picture into a brick pattern isn’t the kind of problem we solve every day, but HTML5 technologies made it relatively easy. We use the canvas to load the users image and process the pixels in the image into bricks. We also use the canvas to tile brick images together to form an isometric view of the final production. JQuery helps out with basic manipulation in the UI, and we use Sammy.js and Underscore.js to glue everything together. Check out the code on GitHub.
Brickify made it on to TechCrunch and led to us working with the Black Eyed Peas, which was a lot of fun 🙂
Ways to Foster Good Ideas
- Always listen to people’s ideas
- Write them down – never judge them there and then
- Brainstorm – One person will often refine someone else’s idea into something usable
- Give people time to come up with ideas. Maybe a day off?
- Ask people to do something that is out of their comfort zone. For example we asked Mike our designer to produce a design for our office space. He’d never done any interior design before but he loved the challenge and the results were amazing.