When you’ve got a company full of ambitious, skilled, creative, hard-working, interesting, extremely good-looking people, inspiration strikes nearly every darn minute. #humblebrag
But of course, when you are knee-deep in projects and pushing out new features (with the occasional ping-pong break), you don’t always get the opportunity to collaborate on projects across departments or show off your non-role related skills.
That’s why we decided to have a ShipIt Day.
What is a ShipIt Day?
No, we did not just ship a bunch of stuff. (Though, technically, that could qualify as a ShipIt Day project.)
On ShipIt Day, you’ve got 24 hours, pizza, your colleagues, and company time to do something that is not exactly your job.
Anything can be a Shipit Day project, so long as it somehow relates back to the company, the office or the culture.
The point is let your inner mad scientists out, make something new or upgrade that thing that is driving everyone crazy, cultivate copious high-fives, and flex your sexy brain muscles.
Fun Fact: The name ‘ShipIt Day’ is an evolution of Atlassian’s ‘FedEx Day’. The hack-a-thon-type event was nicknamed internally in spirit of FedEx’s 24-hour shipping mandate. But Atlassian never expected the idea to take hold outside the company; when it did, they were politely asked by FedEx to stop calling FedEx Day. Hence the super vague and confusing, not remotely related to the event in any reasonable way, ShipIt name.
How to Plan a ShipIt Day
Autonomy, self-organization and creativity are the guiding principles of ShipIt Day. But to make sure those principles can be put to work, it does take a bit of planning.
For our first ShipIt Day, we attempted to follow the guidelines proposed by Atlassian.
In reality, it shook out like this:
1. Pitch an idea
We created a Google Form where anyone could submit ideas for ShipIt Day projects, no matter how weird, crazy or ambitious.
2. Pick a Team
Once we collected everyone’s ideas, we loaded them onto a spreadsheet and everyone self-selected which teams they wanted to work on.
3. Outline the Project
Once teams were (mostly) settled, we were required to submit an outline of our Project for supplies and budget approval.
4. Get to Work
And finally, at 2pm on Thursday, we got down to business. Some of the more reasonable people went home at five, while some, fueled by pizza and pizzaz, worked well into the evening.
5. Present Your MVP
Instead of presenting at 2pm, we pushed our deadline to 4pm, which gave us 26 hours in total. At that time we had to present our MVP (minimum viable product) to everyone. Connected by live-stream, we were able to see and celebrate what everyone worked on across offices.
Once all the projects were presented, we chose a winner for each office. The winning project got a sweet Amazon gift-card that was split between the winning team.
What we loved about ShipIt Day
For some of us who work on primarily in areas that don’t always offer immediate results or reward, there was a sense of catharsis that came from being able to set a goal and accomplish it to present a workable product in 24 hours.
Us tech-focused folk don’t get to work with our hands a whole lot, so it was nice to be able to break free from our screens, build something and get our hands a bit dirty.
But if you ask anyone who participated, they’ll likely tell you the thing that they enjoyed the most about this ShipIt Day, was hanging out together.
ShipIt gave us the opportunity to work on projects with people who we may have otherwise never collaborated with. Learning about our colleagues secret superpowers and witnessing our collective creativity run wild made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
And the Winners Are….
The results of our first ShipIt Day were pretty impressive. From apps and game designs, to cryptocurrencies, and office upgrades, there were a lot of great projects to choose from.
But alas, there could only be two winners.
The Q3 ShipIt Day Winner (Kelowna)
Tallie - The Ping-Pong Companion
Long gone are the days of tournament stalling debates over who’s got how many points. Tallie uses voice-activated tallying to keep score for you. But that’s not all. Tallie also gives each user an individual profile, so you can see your points, wins, and compare your scores with colleagues. It’s not hard to see why this sweet app won by a landslide in the Kelowna office.
- Eric (engineering)
- Alex (creative team)
- Mehul (creative team)
The Q3 ShipIt Day Winner (Vancouver)
Arcade Table - So Game, Much Buttons
In case you haven’t noticed, we game pretty hard at the Btag. When we aren’t working on our ping-pong serves, we’re playing classic video games (when we aren’t working obviously). Our boring old Ikea coffee table was converted into an epic functional arcade table. With big red and blue buttons and classic joy-stick accents, even the least game-savvy of our bunch couldn’t help but enjoy the button-slapping fun times the table invited.
Preparing for our next ShipIt Day (And what we'll do differently)
Planning is our friend. We tried to eek this ShipIt Day on the last day of the quarter, and we definitely felt the pressure. Considering we didn’t do much to much to prep, organize, brainstorm, and communicate what it was all about beforehand, we did a pretty good job of pulling it off.
Be more or less ambitious. Some projects ended up running into a lot more roadblocks than anticipated and didn’t quite translate the way we had hoped. Other projects were done very quickly, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as those team members were free to help out with other projects.
Lower the barrier to entry. Some skills like carpentry and coding translate better into one-day projects than others. Next time we need to brainstorm hands-on projects in advance that "anybody" can do and feel that they contributed.
Next ShipIt Day: Start planning for next ShipIt Day months in advance with brainstorming and collaboration meetings.