31 May 2017
Innovation day at Boxever
A few years ago, Professor John Bessant, then of the Centre for Research and Innovation Management at the University of Brighton, started a seminar on Innovation with an unusual quote. The Professor read from the first page of A. A. Milne’s ‘The World of Pooh’ – an unlikely source for innovation! The first paragraph reads: “Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head behind Christopher Robbin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment”.
Generally speaking, there is always a better way if we could only make the time to think about what we do, how we do it and how we could do it better?
A problem in a busy technology-led environment can be that, too often, we are so busy with our day to day activities that we forget to leave the time and headspace to think about what we do and look for ways to do things better. Another issue in tech companies can be that innovation is seen as the sole remit of the engineering or product teams.
Why is this misconception so common? Perhaps, it is that everything we see in the press, which is labeled innovative, is technology focused. Or, perhaps, it is that many assume that to innovate means to invent and technology is the natural output. The Oxford Dictionary defines innovation as, “innovation (in something) the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something.” So, you will notice that there is no mention of technology or no limits as to who can innovate.
On Friday, May 19th, we had our first innovation day at Boxever which we called Boxathon. This was a day when we empowered everyone from across all business functions in Boxever to take time to think about what we do and to innovate.
The plans began several months ago when we first announced the date of the inaugural event. From that point, we had several smaller events leading up to the big day to help build excitement and momentum for what could be achieved. We started with a competition to design the T-Shirt for the event, which got the creative juices flowing. Success was evident with over 25 designs submissions from across the company.
Project submissions were opened up 3 weeks before the Boxathon event and we had a pitch session two weeks later with beer and pizza where everyone who submitted one of the 35 project ideas had 60 seconds to make an elevator pitch and canvas for team members. Submissions from across the business included projects as diverse as designs for marketing material, social apps, voting apps for the Boxstar Award*, new features for our decisioning platform Engage and designs for a new office layout!
When the big day arrived, we narrowed down the number of projects to 11 with 4 to 6 cross functional members for each team. Some of the projects titles included:
– Boxever Evolve
– Champion Challenger
– Boxever Academy
– Boxever Control
– Ask Boxever Explore!
– Boxever Training Storefront
– B.E. App
– Boxever Experience App
At 9.30am, we kicked off with some hints and tips for success for those who had not experienced an innovation day or hackathon before. After a group photo, it was down to business!
Everyone embraced the spirit of innovation to the full and worked feverishly and passionately right through the day. Even though we had organised team games at both lunch and dinner, it was near impossible to tear anyone away from their projects for more than 10 minutes.
After more than 10 hours, 120 tins of energy drink, 240 bags of crisps (chips for our U.S. readers), 80 large bags of fizzy sweets (candy), copious amounts of chocolate and quite a few craft beers, the presentations began.
After all teams had presented, the voting were counted and we awarded 4 sets of trophies. The first, second and third place teams each won a trophy and various tech prizes including echo dots, chromecasts and a games’ system. The final award was for the spirit of Boxathon.
The B.E. App. team won the spirit of Boxathon award, as they personified all that was amazing about the day. They thought outside the box, oozed enthusiasm, were truly cross functional and delivered a great presentation!
The first Boxathon was an overwhelming success in so many ways. We had 11 awesome projects which showcased some amazing ideas. More than that, the day reminded us all of the value of creating the time and headspace to let innovation happen every day. Needless to say, our Boxathon ‘18 planning is in full swing!
Director of Product
Roy is Director of Product at Boxever – a market-leading personalisation platform that uses data and AI to make every customer interaction smarter. Boxever is recognised by Gartner as a leading player in personalisation and ranked by Forbes alongside Google, Apple and Amazon as one of the most powerful examples of AI in use today.