What can schools learn from 3M, Google & Atlassian? Inspiring curiosity & creativity: Innovation Days
January 3, 2012 4 Comments
What have the companies 3M, Google & Atlassian got in common? They all give their employees spaces of time to work on what they are curious about. They have complete autonomy over how they work, who they work with and what they experiment with. Ironically, given this freedom, they tend to work on creative solutions that will benefit their company – a win win situation if ever there was one!
This is not a recent development either; 3M employees have had 15% time every week since the 1930s and if you have ever used a Post it / Sticky note you have been the beneficiary of this 15% time. Remarkably, Google’s famed 20% time, the equivalent of 1 working day per week, has been responsible for 50% of Google’s products including Gmail and Google News. Finally, Atlassian, an Australian software company, organises a Fed Ex Day every quarter. This challenges employees to ‘deliver’ new products & prototypes overnight.
This idea, coupled with discovering Josh Stumpenhort’s (@stumpteacher) blog (http://stumpteacher.blogspot.com/) & an idea he implemented led me to planning my own ‘Innovation Day’ for students. This day is taking place in my school on Thursday 8th March 2012:
The ‘Innovation Day’ is open to ALL Year 7 to 10 students (approx 1200 students) who are invited to apply with a project they would like to work on for an entire school day, therfore giving them autonomy over their work.
We are starting with a small group of students (approx 20-30) to begin with just to see how successful it is.
We are hoping for a wide variety of applicants (musicians, artists, journalists, scientists, actors, sports people, builders etc..)
They can work individually or in small groups but must be give details of what the project entails, what resources they will provide and what resources they need from the school
The day will end with a ‘show & tell’ session in the school assembly hall in front of the other participants. What have they created? What worked well? What went wrong etc?
If the day is successful we will hopefully try to make it a whole year or whole school day next time. Obviously, space & resourcing will determine how big it can get
I am delivering the house assemblies next week to promote the day. After speaking to various students & staff about this, they seem pretty excited about the idea – hopefully this transfers into quite a few applicants!
The tagline for ‘Innovation Day’ is ‘What’s your spark?‘. In other words, what is your passion? The poster can found by clicking on the link below (thanks to the work of a fantastic school LSA Rod Marsh):
I will let you know how this process goes over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if anyone has heard of other schools doing something similar I would love to get in touch with them or vice versa.
Twitter: @BebbPEteach / email: firstname.lastname@example.org