D-Day – How to Solve Internal Problems and Build a Startup in One Day?

What is the D-Day?

At DeSmart we believe that besides your daily tasks you should be able to work on your own projects and take ownership of solving unsolved issues. That’s why we have created the D-Day. The concept is simple. Once per quarter we leave our daily duties and we focus on our own ideas, challenges and we work together to deliver something at the end of the day.

How does the D-Day look like?

It happens on Friday. Before that day we meet on Wednesday and everyone can present their ideas. We write them down on the blackboard. We name ideas and for the next two days people can sign up for one or a couple of projects. We also inform clients that we will be not accessible on that day (only for emergency issues).

Friday arrives. We all sit together in our chillout room and the teams are created. We bring fresh fruit and cake and we start working on projects. The goal is to deliver something (prototype, solution, piece of software etc.) before 5 PM.

Around midday we have a pizza and people discuss their progress. Some of them work hard on specific topics; the others (like Radek – our CTO) jump from one team to another to help with many technical questions.

Around 5 PM we meet together and teams are presenting their ideas. We discuss challenges, we write down the so-called “lesson learned” and we decide, how we can implement ideas onto our daily life (during the previus D-Day we implemented DeRadio – a music system in our office that everyone can access, change the music and dedicate a song to the rest of the people in the office).

Why do we love D-Day?

On the one hand, people don’t work on clients’ projects, but on the other, they can fix some issues, solve problems, improve things in the company or build a startup. People can also learn new things. From my own perspective, I see many reasons that make such a day valuable and worth attending:

Ownership – people learn being responsible for problems and they are fully engaged in the process of solving them. There is no pressure, but people feel the drive to create something useful.

Freedom – every idea is good. We don’t judge anyone. People use the opportunity to build a piece of software or fix some internal issues. Creation is a really important part of the process. At the end of the day you feel proud of what you’ve done with the others.

Working in teams – people choose team members and have to find a leader of the group. They need to cooperate, manage their time effectively and focus on delivering something at the end of the day. They help each other and use the strengths of each member of the group. As a result, everyone is doing something he should be doing (based on skills, experience and will). Such approach helps people later on, when they work with clients on a daily basis– team members create a synergy effect building software.

People care – it’s always good to mix people and work on different projects. People are willing to help and it has become a part our Culture. By doing great things with highly motivated folks, you want to give as much as possible. People contribute and serve the team and the team appreciates that in many ways, such as giving Bonus Points via Bonusly.

Fun – working together with friends and making things happen always bring pleasure. We have music playing around, people make jokes and we spend D-Day in a great mood. The moment of presenting ideas is the most exciting hour of the day – everyone is curious what others did or learned. We jump from one place to another to see what teams were working on and which project will be implemented later on.

And finally we go outside and have a beer together. Happy and motivated, we start our weekend! DeSpirit is inside of us.

Results of D-Day this quarter

This quarter (Q1 2015) we had our D-Day last Friday, the 27th of February. We had many ideas, but finally a few of them were completed and presented.:

  • ChceZaTyle – a kind of wish list which you can share with others, so they know what to buy you as a gift
  • Java course – 105 point collected by Agnieszka on online course
  • Virtual Yachts – an app created by Eduardo using programming language SWIFT (it was completely new for him)
  • Online ad banner for Conventica (after graphic training delivered to our interns by Ralf)
  • STAC (our in-house made ticketing system) module for SCRUM
  • DeForm
  • DeLEDs – a visual system of lights implemented in our windows
  • Testing in Agile – training prepared by Bartek

Additionally, I was filming everything and did my own project during the weekend, which was a short video from D-Day. If you want to feel the spirit, watch it and share your thoughts. Enjoy watching!

It’s worth doing!

I personally believe that every company should have such an event at least once per semester. It helps people to be closer and be helpful. It motivates them and gives them some time to grow (professionally and personally) and go beyond the daily tasks.

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