Having employees with a maximum of autonomy is one very important aspect we’re constantly aiming for at ICANS. We’re doing so for the simple reason that we strongly believe that autonomy leads to higher performance by encouraging personal pride, enthusiasm, and an openness and willingness to bring a creative problem solving, can-do attitude to daily tasks. We further believe that a maximum of autonomy of each employee is the only way to continue our growth while keeping our agility and flat hierarchies. And last but not least because it simply feels right. ;)
For that reason we’re already staffing teams in a way that ensures that they become highly independent from other teams in the daily business, let the teams do their planning and estimating on their own and even let teams voting their team representative without any management intervention.
Another very powerful tool in this regards — possibly known from companies like Google or Atlassian — is giving people some dedicated time where they can freely decide to work on whatever they want. Something we at ICANS haven’t tried yet, at least not in a structured company-wide approach. But this will change very soon! After shipping our latest project within the next weeks, we’re planning our first so called “pizza days” (As no one came up with a good name yet, I decided to call them “pizza days” in remembrance to the good old startup days with all those sleepless nights of coding and a lot of pizza ;) )
So how will it look in detail?
Offer to all employees:
- 2 days to do whatever you want and with whomever you want
Requirements to participate:
- “project” should be related to what ICANS is doing in the very broadest sense
- upfront a very brief project documentation on the what and why, as well as a commitment to the deliverables
- afterwards a small presentation as well as a few written sentences on the results, learnings and possible follow-ups
- everyone makes sure that no business critical operations are threatened
- 4 weeks upfront – the “pizza days” will be announced via email and a forum thread for brainstorming, as well as a wikipage for project documentation will be set up
- Thursday morning – the pizza day will start
- Thursday at around 19h – some pizza and beer will be organized
- Friday 15h – presentation of the results (max. 3 minutes per project)
- Friday ~16:15h – voting the best project; everyone has one voice
- Friday ~16:30h — detailed presentation and discussion on the winning project
- Friday ~17:00h — open feedback and résumé
- Is participation voluntary? Yes.
- Do I need some sort of approval for my project? No.
- Can I work on my own or do I have to team up? Do whatever you want. But be careful with building to large teams.
- What happens to meetings at those days? Everyone is responsible to cancel or reschedule meetings at those days if they are in the way.
- I have no time (holiday, ill, something else) to participate at this specific date. Can I have my personal pizza day some time later? No.
- Will there be a price for the winner? We’ll see :)
- Who will organize the “pizza days”? Katharina.
- Will this take place on a regular base? This highly depends on the results. If we all come to the conclusion that it’s a good idea to do it again, we’ll probably do so ;)