At VendAsta we just announced our Friday afternoon Jam Sessions. Basically we have decided that we are going to allocate time to allow people to work on anything of, interest to them - as long as it is software. Personally, I love what we are doing here. I wanted to write a blog about it so I have been doing a lot of research and introspection. I really want us all to think about what we are trying to achieve. This isn't an idea or gimmick to gain more productivity from our staff. This idea is truly more about our attitude, philosophies, environment and culture than some "thing we do".
What does that mean, you might be asking yourself. Let me explain.
When we first discussed the idea of working on side projects I had a lot of fears. Fears that we would lose focus, fears that it would be expensive, fears that the time would be "wasted". To alleviate those fears I wanted to impose restrictions. Things like: Projects need to be well thought out and documented, projects need to have some benefit to the company, or projects need to be in area of development we are already in.
Then, I thought about what it is that we originally envisioned VendAsta to be. To paraphrase, we wanted to work with super smart people we like on interesting stuff. To achieve this, our attitudes, philosophies, environment and culture must reflect this. Imposing rules overtop of JAM to alleviate fears is wrong, it is simply not what we are about.
On the face of it JAM is about allowing everyone to have an opportunity to work on ideas that are their own or ideas they personally and individually buy into. But it is more than that. It is about providing people with the luxury of dreaming. It is about giving our people a chance to turn some of their dreams into reality.
People at VendAsta work very hard. When you hire the best and brightest you tend to get people that are ambitious and driven. VendAstians are thinkers, innovators, and leaders full of their own ideas and driven by a strong competitive work ethic, healthy peer pressure, and pride.
JAM is about providing time, money and opportunity for anyone to sell their idea to the VendAsta team. JAM is the mechanism to take something from a dream to an idea, from an idea to a plan, from a plan to a prototype, from a prototype to a product and from a product to a money maker.
JAM products will gain momentum through peer review, open discussion and debate and personal choice. JAM Product decisions will not be made by management and executives. Products that gain JAM momentum will benefit from all the skill sets available; marketing, promotion, critical analysis, development and production environments, business development, testing, monetization, HCI and development.
JAM is also an opportunity to share in the profits and hedge your chances for success. The profits of products built and released via JAM will be shared in a very democratic way with all.
Most of all JAM is about making VendAsta a great place to work with super smart cool people building interesting stuff.