January 10, 2010

“FedEx days”

Here’s kind of an interesting take on feature development:

Mr. PINK*: Human beings have a natural urge for autonomy. [...] There’s an Australian software company called Atlassian, and they do something once a quarter where they say to their software developers: You can work on anything you want, any way you want, with whomever you want, you just have to show the results to the rest of the company at the end of 24 hours.

They call these things “FedEx days,” because you have to deliver something overnight. That one day of intense autonomy has produced a whole array of software fixes, a whole array of ideas for new products, a whole array of upgrades for existing products.

Building on the After Effects team’s approach, the Photoshop team has introduced “JDI days” this cycle, and we’ll have some great results to share with you. There’s always an ocean of “wouldn’t it be great if…”/”just one more thing…” ideas, and obviously we have to balance addressing those with big, sustained efforts (e.g. Carbon->Cocoa, 64-bit). Still, we’ve found that codifying the JDI process has worked quite well so far.

*Note: Played by Daniel Pink, author of Drive, not by Steve Buscemi.

Posted by John Nack at 9:42 AM on January 10, 2010

Comments

  • Alex — 10:32 AM on January 10, 2010

    Yahoo! has done these for years under the name “Hack Days”. And I’ve also done them in other places. They can be a great way to get designers and developers who wouldn’t normally meet to work together. In my experience many developers have great ideas but don’t have the same access to product development that design teams do. I’d recommend hack days at any company.

  • uri — 1:42 AM on January 11, 2010

    Great post

  • Steve Laskevitch — 1:13 PM on January 11, 2010

    I’m curious how JDI could work across an org as big as Adobe–with engineers on several continents. For example, it would be great if all the apps put their “dirty” (=unsaved) file indicator asterisk in the same place. My students would appreciate that. But we’re talking a bunch of apps, a bunch of teams here.
    Reminds me of the ol’ Cmd+D shortcut problem (re: ID, AI, and PS). Or getting closed path completion to be the same across those apps.
    Don’t get me wrong: I deeply appreciate the efforts of each team, especially PShop, but Suite JDI days would be welcome, too!

  • Danielle M — 1:15 PM on December 02, 2010

    I recently wrote a post for my company blog about Dan Pink’s TED.com talk in which he discusses “FEDEX days”. He also mentions ROWE (results only work environment), in which the only thing that matters is that you get your work done – how and where are irrelevant. Check it out here: http://www.suttonintegrated.com/blog/corporate/the-future-is-motivated/

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