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Innovation Week – 5 reasons to hold a week-long hack day

7th April 2015

Next week will be anything but business as usual at SwiftKey. We’re downing tools for an entire five days. No meetings and no working with our usual teams. We’re holding our first ever ‘Innovation Week’ – a five-day long extravaganza ‘hackathon’-style event for creativity and experimentation.

SwiftKey Innovation Day

Innovation matters but it takes time and effort to make it more than a fridge magnet slogan. Since the start, we’ve devoted the equivalent of a day a month to Innovation Days, opportunities for the entire company to think and work differently. This time we want to go bigger and bolder.

:: Meet the team behind SwiftKey Innovation Week 

Here are five reasons we’re doing this:
1) Putting our money where our mouth is. We have ‘innovation’ as a core value at SwiftKey and believe that’s key to who we are so it’s only right we invest time and energy into making it more than a buzzword.

2) Stepping off the beaten track. For companies of any size, the future can easily become constrained by the security of ‘plans’ and ‘roadmaps’, so we like to regularly shake things up and remove boundaries, rules and assumptions. This keeps us flexible and leads us in new directions.

3) Staying curious. SwiftKey Keyboard was born out of the question “What if… there was an easier way to type?” By encouraging curiosity, we break ‘groupthink’, giving each other permission to be ourselves and not fear looking stupid. This leads us to more interesting questions and more creative answers.

4) Getting hands on. Ideas are important but fragile, and only the beginning of innovation. We deliberately take ourselves beyond the brainstorm and make real stuff through rapid experimentation and prototyping. This allows us to more quickly see what works, learn from failures and discover unexpected new possibilities.

Hack day pizza

:: See more photos of Innovation Week

5) Cultivating collaboration. The bigger a company grows, the greater the challenge of feeling ‘together’ in all you do. Innovation Days are brilliant for getting to know people we don’t normally work with, and benefitting from the wide ranging skills and interests we have as a group. Plus, ‘fun’ is another of our values: it matters. We want our colleagues to find work creative, interesting, different.

We asked everyone at SwiftKey what they love about Innovation Days. Check out the most common themes below…

SwiftKey hack days

Get involved – nominate a team challenge
One team (engineers plus others) has volunteered to build, create or do something – as nominated by YOU! Yep that’s right – we are completely in your hands. We love our users so we want to devote ourselves to your whims for a week. Tell us what we should devote our Innovation Week to. A fun app or game? Something serious or philanthropic? A video or challenge?

Suggest your idea in the comments below or by filling in this quick simple web form. We’ll round up the best ideas and submit them to a public vote and then our mini team will try to deliver!

Then – we’ll spend the week showing you our progress. We’ll post an update every day documenting our efforts and who’s working on your project. We hope by Friday we might have a finished result to unveil – or a big fat failure to learn from, after all, that’s part of innovation too. How much fun we have, how successful we are, depends on your ideas. Get suggesting!

Does your company do something similar to Innovation Days? Do you wish it did? Tell us in the comments below.

Precious & Adam (Innovation Commandos)

:: Like the sound of SwiftKey? Check out our latest job openings.

6 responses to “Innovation Week – 5 reasons to hold a week-long hack day”

  1. Larrypitzer says:

    How about offering varied fonts, specifically with an eye toward creating the ability to italicized. It’s this even possible???

  2. Justin Toler says:

    Maybe you guys can find a way to quickly turn on and off predictions and auto-correct. Like how Google keyboard turns off its predictions and auto-correct when you look things up online. Maybe you guys can have it where we just swipe down on the predictions so we can turn that stuff off and then swipe up at the top of the keyboard to turn the predictions and auto-correct back on.

  3. prepaidwirelessguy says:

    Great app; thank you! Some feedback on the Beta feature of having the menu to the left of the prediction bar….Not liking it! I believe people access the menu so infrequently, why clutter of the always visible prediction bar? The current long hold is perfect. Some food for thought…

  4. Tyler Hartwig says:

    I’d love to see different vibration patterns for different keys, it would add a sense of hardware for the user and might help a person’s subconscious better determine where keys are located

  5. Stefan Lindblad says:

    You have the best keyboard, IMHO. Thanks a lot for creating it. Keep up the good work.
    I suggested a few ideas you might want to explore, at the link above.

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