I do my best to coax beautiful flowers and tasty fruits and veggies out of the soil at home by setting up the best possible conditions in the garden. (Like many amateur gardeners, I'm not always as successful as I'd like to be!) My plants need healthy, well-aerated soil, the right amount of light, plenty of water and fertilizer in order to thrive. As the gardener, it's my job and privilege to give them what they need and then to sit back and watch them work their natural magic.
What Motivates Us
Over the course of my career in the software industry I've found that the best developers also need a handful of elements in place in order to thrive at work. Dan Pink's best selling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and his corresponding TED talk do a much better job of summarizing the three ingredients for motivation in the modern world than I ever could. (If you haven't seen his talk yet, it's worth taking the 10 minutes and 48 seconds out of your day to watch it.) The three essential ingredients he outlines are:
- Autonomy: the desire to direct our own lives
- Mastery: the urge to get better and better at something that matters
- Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
I'm lucky enough to work with a team of rockstar software developers here at gap intelligence. Like all the best at their craft, they are a bunch of incredibly smart and creative people. We use a flexible management framework called Scrum to keep ourselves organized and efficient as we build and maintain the software that powers gap intelligence. Scrum removes a lot of the obstacles that get in the way of delivering great software, but the day-to-day business necessities of keeping gap intelligence's GFD flowing don't always let these superstars do what they do best.
Developer Days: Letting the Natural Magic Happen
Inspired by Google's famous "20% time" and Developer Days (Dev Days) experienced at previous employers, we've implemented a monthly Dev Day here at gap intelligence. Our software developers spend one day per month working on a passion project of their choosing and then report back on their efforts to the rest of the team.
The "rules" for our Dev Day are very fluid:
- Dev Day projects do not have to be directly business related… but they can be
- Devs can work solo or as a team
- Devs can build something or spend the day researching/reading a book about a topic that interests them
- Participation is never mandatory
Software Developers, like most creative geniuses are happiest and most productive when they get a chance to explore and create without restrictions. Dev Days make sure we're setting aside dedicated time for our team to experience the motivating forces of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Beyond happy and motivated gappers, the additional benefit has been a wide variety of interesting projects that help us move forward as a company. We've seen just about everything we'd hoped for and more: just-for-fun apps, new productivity tools, and even the foundations for future products and apps that gap intelligence is planning to launch in months ahead. Stay tuned for exciting innovations.