In our ongoing quest in continuing to be a “Best Company to Work For”, we constantly spend time looking for new and creative ways to practice and develop our employees’ core skill sets.
We’ve recently started an effort called Un-Roadmap Days, a program oriented with our engineering and operations teams to provide an opportunity to unwind a bit and diverge from our typical product roadmap.
As you’ll see, the parameters are pretty simple:
Invest two days of effort each month into a project of your choice.
We selected a two-day per month block of time to decrease the amount of context switching people are doing. A few hours each week seemed like too many opportunities for the day-to-day activities to get in the way and using a week per quarter seemed too infrequent.
Two days per month is the right balance so that our product managers and team leads can plan accordingly.
Mix it up!
Like most Dyn projects, we want people working in teams and these Un-Roadmap Days are no different — except that this creates an opportunity for teams to mix up a bit. Mixing teams creates an opportunity for those people who don’t work together on a daily basis to interact, inspire creativity and drive team dynamics. For managers, it creates opportunities to experiment with various new team configurations and to examine the team dynamics that result.
Focus on a project that is good for Dyn, but not a project we would necessarily put onto a product roadmap.
For example, our DynViz and DNSCog systems were the results of employee side projects and now, they are tools that we use everyday. Smart people come up with really cool things when they are given time to focus and be creative.
There are a few other parameters that are less significant (such as not deconstructing your product’s lab systems for your Un-Roadmap Project) but they are details. Overall, the concept plays into our engineering and operations methodology: put really smart people together, find their strengths and have them work on things that leverage their strengths.
The opportunity to explore new technologies, to find and develop new tools and programs and to generally decompress a bit helps to inspire new ideas and to be create. Doing so results in happier employees and better products and services to offer to customers.
So as one of our backend engineers likes to say: “Go Offroading!”