Written by Tony Pease, CEO of Carimus
At Carimus, we’re big fans of all things outer space. I’m not sure if it’s the concept of exploration, the unknown or our deep love for Sci-Fi, but most of our branding, both internal and external, revolves around space.
When we need a break, we take an innovation break and we call this Rocketship It. The name plays on the speed and scope of a rocketship and the concept of getting something out the door. Rocketship It is a two-day internal hackathon where we break up into teams and work on something new.
The concept of Rocketship It started as a team-building exercise to work on something different from our daily routines. For two days each quarter, we cancel all our meetings, break up into teams and tackle a problem or set of problems. Sometimes we work on the same category of items and other times the inspiration comes directly from the teams. The outcome’s always amazing, and the teams get to build a bit of camaraderie while flexing their innovation muscles.
We don’t always use the output of Rocketship It, but there is always a benefit. Here are the best things I’ve noticed by running Rocketship It.
- Team building – In many companies, people tend to work with the same groups of people consistently. With this event, we are able to build cross-functional teams, which helps reduce overall organizational friction and builds relationships between teams.
- Reduce Fatigue – In the consulting services industry, you don’t always get to pick what you work on, and sometimes the projects go on for long periods of time. Taking innovation breaks reinvigorates our team, therefore allowing us to continue producing high-quality work.
- Explore new technologies and processes – These two days allow us to explore and test new technologies that we are unable to use on our client’s projects due to time and budgets. Besides, nothing replaces hands-on experience when it comes to engineering.
- Identify new products and Services – Some of what we build during this time gets incorporated into our products and services. For example, we’ve been working on a new onboarding process for JouleBug which allows our customers to manage their own ESG programs from our platform. This will be deployed in November.
- Reduce fear of failure – Most of the work from RocketShip It doesn’t work as planned, or the work isn’t as far along as hoped. Our young developers and creatives learn to provide better estimates and be more pragmatic about outcomes through this process.
Here are some rules to follow if you want to create your own RocketShip It type event.
- Set clear guidelines. For us, you have two days to create a demonstrable prototype. Give your team a specific problem to work on and set some parameters.
- Assign the teams. The self-selection process was a point of stress in our early events. We found assigning people to teams made it easier for them to participate.
- Show your work. Make the teams present their work in a similar format. We require a lean canvas prior to starting RocketShip It and a presentation with a demo at the end. These are some of the questions we work to answer:
- What worked and what didn’t work?
- What are the steps to bring this into production?
- What would you do differently if you could start over knowing what you know?
- Celebrate the output. Good or bad, the output will reflect someone’s interest. Since this is innovation time, there are no wrong answers.
I know it’s hard to find the time to invest in team-building activities, but I’ve found it to be worth it. Our crew is the heart of Carimus, and keeping them energized not only benefits their mental health, but the work we put out as a company.
Innovation is key to company growth, and if you don’t want your business to remain stagnant, I recommend adopting team-building activities such as RocketShip It. So, take a break and go do something interesting with people you admire.
For more information on Carimus visit (www.carimus.com).