About five months ago, we introduced an internal scheme for employees at LogicSpot. The idea is to give everyone dedicated time to do Research and Development that we might otherwise not make time for. The scheme is called LogicSpot:CREATE, and it has been a major development for us as a company for various reasons, and the biggest benefit is the results that are coming from people within the company.
To start the processes, we had a brief meeting with each team member to discuss what ideas they would like to work on. It was amazing how quickly these ideas formed in everyone’s minds, and how varied they were. It was clear that this was giving all the developers a chance to work on ideas they had been thinking of for a while, and the digital marketing and management teams were keen to get started on new techniques that they had thought about, but not had time to investigate fully.
Once we had a list of all the ideas, we started allocating time slots for everyone to start working on their ideas and/or research. It is all logged against our normal time tracking software to get a good idea of how much time the company has invested, and who is using the time appropriately.
In the first few weeks we had some big projects and ideas taking form, even becoming usable in our day to day projects for clients. The output from this R&D time has been overwhelmingly positive, with everyone having a backlog of ideas to work on, and wanting more time invested into the scheme. But the biggest benefit for LogicSpot is the results from the time that has been invested. At last count we have:
- Developed three Magento modules
- Created a fully responsive WordPress base theme
- Researched into PhoneGap for mobile app development
- Implemented new Digital Marketing processes and research methods
- Extended WordPress plugins for Single Sign On with Magento
- Done lots of research into new development and management techniques
- And much more
Most of the above has since been used on new build projects and for our support clients, and has had a big influence in helping us provide the best client support and consultancy.
The video below is a great example of a massive company that makes R&D one of its core business values. The interview is with a previous Apple employee (Brian Wilson), talking about his experience within one of the sub-teams at Apple. He talks about how non-core projects can end up being the core of the business, if the company has the vision to allow the research (video time 2:00). Brian gives an example of the culture that Apple has created which allows an engineer at the ‘lowest level’ to invest time in a project that they believe in, and slowly other people and resources gravitate to the project and it evolves from the bottom up (video time 3:30).
The interview is really worth watching all the way through, it touches on huge points that all managers and business owners can take away from, not just those in software development. For example (video time 4:05) Brian talks about as a business owner and manager you have to “hire great people and let them do great work”, but it’s also about hiring people that will support those individuals and just get on with the task at hand. This strikes a great balance of keeping your core business moving forward, whilst also allowing those creative individuals to push new ideas and concepts through, which might end up being core to the business in the future.