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Free Point Friday - For Innovation

At Inventables use Agile software development where requirements and solutions evolve as we get usage data and feedback from our customers. Monday through Thursday the stories used to build features come from a collaboration of a small cross functional team that includes an internal “customer”, a business analyst, software developer, and a UI designer. We measure the complexity of the work in dimensionless “points”.

Since we are using a product development process, logically the features we work on Monday through Thursday tend to be incremental improvements on what already exists. Most processes yield this kind of result by definition. To encourage innovation on a regular basis we introduced the concept of the "Free Point". Free Point Friday is a slight departure from our normal process where our technical team can work on whatever THEY think is the most important. This is important because there are no approvals required, no expectation of deliverable, and no time constraint. It gives technical people a "private" time to explore their imagination.

Some interesting projects have come out of the free point projects including a police siren that goes off when we make a sale, the related products feature on our site that improves as more customers make inquiries, and Oneth1ng.net that makes our morning standup digital.

The "Friday" part of Free Point Friday is really the key. By doing it once a week it ensures that time is actually set aside for this kind of work. In the past when we tried to implement this kind of idea it was very challenging to carve out the time because "urgent" priorities always took precedent. By naming it "Free Point Friday" everyone on our team knows the rules on Friday are there are no rules.

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