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.

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