At Tempo it’s extremely important for us to foster a culture of innovation. In an industry where things are constantly evolving and adapting, it’s crucial that we continuously improve and empower our teams and members to bring new ideas to the table. After all, our own products are all about empowering teams. Our flagship product, Tempo Timesheets, was a homegrown solution, and its worklog calendar is the result of an internal innovation project.
It's clear that innovation has been a part of our culture from the beginning, but this is the first time we’ve hosted a full day dedicated to it at Tempo. We were inspired by Atlassian’s ShipIt days, but also other local tech companies. We really want to create something unique to us and true to our company values, so we decided to have as few rules as possible and just see what came out of encouraging people to innovate for 24 hours.
Here are a few things we learned about our company, team, and about hosting an innovation day in general:
1 It shows off creativity and talent
One thing we had no problems with here at Tempo was coming up with ideas. We decided to create a visual and physical idea board to collect ideas in the weeks leading up to the event. As soon as the board went up, it was covered in ideas, names, sign up’s, comments, and more.
We had ideas ranging from new products, features for existing products, ideas for charity, marketing campaigns, and even improving our office toilets. There were so many ideas actually, that not all of them could be worked on and will have to wait for the next time.
Just seeing the creativity and innovation of our colleagues inspired people to join in and add their own ideas, creating a momentum of excitement leading up to the day.
2 It empowers the team
Not only were our team members challenged to come up with new ideas and really think about how to improve, it pushed people to create or plan something within 24 hours and catch the eye of the entire organization in a 3 minute presentation. Those are crazy high standards, but the outcome was amazing.
From the perspective of a team member, taking on a challenge like this makes you realize what you are capable of in a short time period if you really put your mind to it. It also shows you how talented and skilled the people you work with every day are both at their jobs, but also other things.
Much of our team stepped away from their comfort zone and worked on something completely different than what they’re used to. Of course we know that we work with top-notch people with many obvious and hidden skills, but being reminded of that in a fun way, while simultaneously strengthening team collaboration is a lot to get out of 24 hours.
Working in a fast evolving industry like software, it’s crucial that we flex our innovation muscles and are constantly reminded of the potential of the team we are surrounded with.
3 It brings people together
There are many teams and many departments in a company. Tempo is still relatively small and most of us know each other by name, but this is changing rapidly. We’re scaling at a fast pace and we’re at the point where many of us have never really worked together.
One thing we strongly encouraged when leading up to the day, was for people to branch out, work with people from other teams, and on ideas that were outside of their own expertise and experience. It was nice to see how many people did exactly this and how well they worked together.
One team even made their own team t-shirts!
4 A little competition goes a long way
We didn’t hold back when it came to competitions, and we found that a little healthy competition goes a long way. We gave out prizes for the best name for the day, a logo, and 3 different categories for best ideas.
Name and Logo competition
Of course starting an initiative like this needs a great name and a great logo and what better way to come up with those things than a competition? We took votes for the best name and best logo design and the verdict is that the Tempo innovation day will henceforth be known as Charlie Day. We had many great ideas, but this name won by a landslide.
Many of our team members are big fans of the show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and were inspired by Charlie’s character being an aspiring entrepreneur and having the last name “Day”.
Here's the winner of the naming competition receiving his prize from our CEO.
We also had a logo design competition to design a logo for the day, which we will use for future Charlie Days. It was great to see how many designs were submitted, even from people who have no background in design, and get people thinking outside the box and doing something a little different than their day to day jobs.
Our winning design looks pretty good, doesn't it? And guess what? It was designed by a software developer, who currently works on our time-tracking solution, Tempo Timesheets.
Best innovation competition
The name and logo competitions proved to be a great way to build up excitement and get people involved, but the main competition was for the best innovation. Since we like to have as many winners as possible, we had three categories:
- best overall idea
- most fun idea
- most original idea.
I’m not going to reveal the winners, because who knows, it might be our next big product. What I will tell you, is that the same team took home all the prizes and will have their names immortalized on our brand new Tempo plaque!
We learned that perhaps we need to redefine our categories and voting process to keep this from happening next time. The competitive spirit of the teams, however, was respectful and really got people working hard, collaborating, and having fun!
5 It’s a lot of fun!
Last, but not least, the day was a huge success and everyone had a lot of fun. Everyone is still talking about the ideas and presentations and we hope that some of them will be taken into further development.
A large part of the success was planning some social activities surrounding the event, meaning good food and drinks. We kicked off the event with a pop up restaurant of healthy sandwiches, juices, and music to get our brain juices flowing. And we ended the event after the presentations with a pizza and beer party!
In a nutshell, we spent 24 hours innovating, getting to know each other better, having some healthy competition, and eating good food. We did this all while strengthening our team and coming up with great ideas to make our company and products even better.