From 1:00pm to 6:00 pm every Friday afternoon, all Storm employees are required to work on a pet project of their choice.
We call this “Innovation Friday.”
The endeavor isn’t exactly original. I know Google employees need to devote 20% of their time on a personal project of their own.
The difference here is the forced schedule. At 1pm every Friday, you have to drop what you are doing to work on your thing. No official project timelines are moved or extended – so you have to be able to keep your usual work commitments with half of a weekday removed.
People love it though, and adjust accordingly.
What strikes me is how different the projects are – from each other and from the “official” work which they are doing. We have a QA analyst doing office beautification and ergonomics. We have a programmer doing SEO work. We have our HR guy doing a podcast project.
The early returns have been great – people are engaged and productive. I’m excited to see the results.
The big difference here is the commitment to the cadence: every Friday afternoon people are required to drop everything and work on their personal project. If we made the rule an ambiguous: “devote 4 hours of your week to a project of your own,” I doubt if it would have been as effective.
Commitment oftentimes needs structure.
You want to lose weight this 2012? Spend more time with your family?
You can surely see how creating a “sacred” time for exercise or time for the family can work.
Why not do the same for launching your startup?
You can do something like spending 800pm-900pm working on your startup – and making this time sacred. You just drop everything. You can use this time to evaluate your startup ideas, research, talking to potential partners, talking to potential clients, and just honing your business model. For those who are married with kids, I’d recommend early in the morning before working.
(I’d advice against using the time from your day job to do this work though. Not only does this comprise an integrity compromise, but if you get caught, you can get fired. )
It’s difficult, yes. But similar to any worthwhile habit you want to develop, you tough it out the first month or so, and then it becomes easier.
Happy 2012 everyone!