Agile: Day of Autonomy, 20% Time, etc

A about a year ago or so, I watched the RSA Animate short on YouTube,


RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Go ahead, watch it, pretty good and just a little over 10 minutes.

One takeaway I got from the short was this: The “Day of Autonomy”. If I remember, they talk about a place where once a quarter or something they let everyone have a day of autonomy, to do whatever they want, but the goal is, at the end of that day, they need to show the group what they did. They saw people doing things that were probably never on any agenda or plan, but some things could help the company and spurred other ideas.

Google is infamous for their “20% time”, which has created things like Gmail, and more.

Just recently, I decided to give this a go in the Business Intelligence group, a day of autonomy. Our velocity for that sprint would be slightly lower, but I was intrigued to see what would come out of it.

The results are still being analyzed, but yeah, seeing some cool things. I think for the next one (if we do it), we will need to plan it a little better to get the results shown to everyone. We are a semi-distributed team, so there are some challenges there.

Overall though, I think the Day of Autonomy is probably a good thing, as long as it isn’t taken advantage of. The players on the team should just be bursting with ideas that they should have no problem coming up with something to do. If you don’t have ideas always swirling on something you could crank out or improve, then you probably need to start there and think a bit differently on how you approach your work.

To me, it almost adds on to the Agile way, being able to do things like this yet still adjust and be flexible, and get some great output on regular stories as well. Always keep improving.

By Steve Novoselac

Director of Digital Technology @TrekBikes, Father, Musician, Cyclist, Homebrewer

3 replies on “Agile: Day of Autonomy, 20% Time, etc”

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