A few months ago, Red Gate sent a team of four people (2 developers, 1 tester, 1 designer and 0 project manager) away from our Cambridge office to a large house near the Suffolk coast for a week. The objective of this “Coding by the sea” project was to keep the team away from all distractions for long enough for them to produce a viable product in a short space of time.
This experiment was really successful. The team came back with the prototype of a new product, SQL Search, which is now released and available (and already proving very popular). This product was of course further developed, thoroughly tested and given a full usability and design polish back at the Red Gate office before it was released. But without this experiment … the SQL Search product would have never seen light of the day.
So Red Gate is now repeating this idea for a Down Tools Week next month; but this time all members of the technical team will be involved. Sadly, we don’t get to go a villa on the Suffolk coast (there isn’t a house big enough to hold us all!) but the idea is that anyone can work on literally anything they like, whether that’s building an entirely new product, developing a prototype for a product, or making a tool for internal use by another department… anything we like. We can work with whoever we choose from any existing team or department. Already, small cabals of plotters have coalesced around certain ideas. The office is buzzing with ideas, as various people try and recruit assistance by persuading others of the value of their brilliant project.
The only string attached is that something should be completed within a week. At the end of the week , each team will then demonstrate to the rest of the company what they have been working on.
Already, there has been a huge and diverse range of ideas flowing on our internal forum and in conversations during lunch time …. from ‘SQL Servery Q Monitor’ (a product which will monitor the queue in our canteen to “Toolbar Hero”, a tool for rewarding users of our products with points and interactive badges for using various functions.
So if you have some really good ideas for small projects… then throw them our way. You never know … it might come back to you as a free tool!