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Don’t work for customer requirements (everyday)

culture / creativity

When I watch my kids playing with their friends (sometimes imaginary), I always feel amazed at their creativity. One of their favorite games is to play as super-heroes on the streets of Lisbon. During the game they gain superpowers from stepping or throwing spiderwebs (when they’re too far away) at manhole covers. They are always changing the rules of the game, and they simply accept it. It always remembers me of Calvinball. They just don’t care about logic (the adult one, at least).

We have all been children, and being a kid is like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it. Given the right mindset, you could also beam with creativity, with disregard for rules. This is my belief.

Premium Minds is a creative company, as in we “create” software. Our people are modern artisans who weave threads of code, creating complex systems that solve real life problems. The pressure to weave fast is big, and we know that if one doesn't stop to breathe and think, one dies or ruins the machine. So one year ago we started a new initiative here at Premium Minds.

WonderWall

The creative day is a day per month during which every person can try new ideas, new technologies, new teams. We only have two rules for this day:

  1. Don’t work for a customer requirement
  2. Whatever you do, even if the result is garbage, it must be presented to the company. We always applaud ☺.

With no requirements pending over their heads, our people have been addressing pains with the most surprising solutions. Let me share some of them:

Spycialist — created to address the growing pains of not knowing the skills of each one of us. It is a chat bot that knows and connects you to the specialists in each skill. It’s built in Python.

Pradio — created for the fun of having an internal radio. It’s a web radio that plays the most liked music of the people connected in each moment. It’s built with Django, and allowed the team to try new approaches to data migration.

LogMyTime — created to address the pain of registering office hours. It’s an app that registers the time you spend near a WiFi network. It’s a really simple solution built for Android and for iOS, and people love it. (Available on Play Store, and soon on App Store)

MiShell — aims to protect the zone. It’s a light you connect to your machine that tells everyone if you’re in the zone and you’re not to be disturbed.

Xerit —created by and for lazy people ☺. Have you ever got up to go to the bathroom just do discover that it was not available. This team engineered a solution combining optical sensors, a raspberry pi and a website that tells us if there is an empty bathroom and for how long it has been empty.

Since the first creative day we've had more than 20 projects. Some are still running, others didn’t last more than the first day. One of them is now due to become a bigger project during a summer internship. All these projects are not directly aimed at clients, but they’re allowing us to explore new solutions. After a year I can tell for sure that clients are also benefiting from these surges of creativity.

During this day we've all been children trying out things with no fear of failure. It has been a really good experience. In a recent survey, 90% of our people said the creative day contributed to our innovation culture. I personally think it has also contributed to our motivation.

I’ve been challenging our engineers to write about these projects in detail. I hope they do. They will inspire you to be more creative, for sure.

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