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.
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.
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.
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…
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)