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Interest clubs? Yes, please

Some time ago at Espeo we had an internal R&D project – but, suffice to say, it suffered natural death. Don’t get me wrong – it created a lot of value and some great insights, but the system hadn’t really worked out. And we have an idea.

Let’s start with some background questions before we move on. Probably the most important one is why you need R&D. Yes, you’ve read that question correctly – it’s a matter of need, not just “I want to do R&D because it’s cool”. R&D is your future. You need that future and it’ll happen in one way or another. Maybe you’ll like that future or maybe you won’t. There are many possibilities – and the best thing you can do about predicting the future is creating it.

If you stand still, the future will strike you someday when you’re off-guard (and Murphy has some great ideas about it). Of course, everything is easier when you have at least a clue about what lies ahead.

That’s the logical side of whole. Ok, now what about happiness?

Fact 1: Most programmers love new things

Seriously, even most bored from day to day people will enjoy trying something new. Even if it’s challenging. Especially if it’s fresh, there are tons of new things everyday and things break from time to time.

Fact 2: You’ll see some very creative ideas being born

Some things that’ll be built will be absurd. Others will be so relatively easy in their concept that you would bot believe nobody had thought of that before. Also, some can be worth investigating whether you can make them into a product.

Fact 3: Some people tend to grasp some technologies better than other ones

I think that everyone can agree on that actually without thinking much. We’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. Everyone has seen it.

Fact 4: You’ll find people that are ready to share their experience

The best teachers want to share their own experiences. Also, a colleague usually can teach better than someone from outside. You can raise everyone’s skills by just letting them fiddle with new things and creating an opportunity for those natural teachers to step in.

But all of that needs some kind of form

That’s why we’ve reflected on our past experience, our core beliefs, thought about everything for a while and came up with this.

Let’s create interest clubs around topics and technologies. Everyone can create or sign up to any club that seems relevant to their interests. At this stage everything can be almost completely ad-hoc and informal.

As time progresses some great thought strikes particular club. They decide together that it has to be done. Now everything’s gaining momentum and that’s where some formal process enters the stage.

Project needs to define its goals, subject and hourly budget. This hourly budget is then reviewed by management and accepted. Of course, in this budget you get all the hours in your free time you want to spend on it.

What happens then?

Project’s running until one of the following happens:

  • goals are reached,
  • budget is spent.

After reaching this stage project is considered as completed.

Closing time!

Completed projects are reviewed once again. Questions that are most important at this stage are:

  • Did we reach our goals?
  • What have we learned?
  • What surprised us?
  • Do we want to continue the efforts in any way?

It’s still a work in progress

Currently we’ve gathered ideas for interest clubs and also because of idea for Espeo hackathon, we’ve thought that joining both can be a great idea.

Personally, I can’t wait to write more about this as time progresses. I’m sure that it’ll be a great experience for everyone – and I’m thrilled, because it’s a fairly new topic. Stay tuned for more!

author: Marcin Merda

Blazej Jelonek