A New Way of Working
posted ago by baron
On December 21st, Ben Kaufman sent the following email to the collective Quirky staff:
“Quirky is a high pressure atmosphere. We push the absolute limits of every single day we have. Doodling, Breaking, Building, Shipping, Prettying, Counting, Labeling, Collaborating, Coding, Inventing.
The result of our way of working is astonishing. Output from small, resource constrained teams on short sprints that large organizations could only dream of.
Three products, every single week. After each there is another.
The side effect of running such an incredible machine at the speed we do is a group of very fatigued, highly creative operators.
In the machine of Making Invention Accessible, we leave no time for catching our breath.
Every good machine needs time to get tuned up/re-calibrated.
Enter: A (experimental) new way of working…
We’ve found that our cadence as a business is very centered around 90 day sprints. Retail seems to have 4 major seasons, our best products seem to be baked in 90 day time frames, the longest we can lock in tactical plans without completely guessing as to what products we will be talking about/investing in is quarterly.
Pressure slowly builds throughout these 90 day periods, culminating in an extremely stressful and magically productive final 2-3 weeks of a calendar quarter. It’s been this way for 3 years.
Historically, we’ve jumped right back into it. But beginning in 2013, the first week of every new calendar quarter will be lights out.
We are going to shut down the entire machine for 4 weeks next year. Instead of running for 52, it will run for 48.
This is a full, mandatory shutdown of all internal activities. Lights out. Deep breath.
Time for us to explore other creative interests. Relax without worrying about what we’re missing. Time for us to get our head back into the game. For some of us, time for us to clean our apartments, see the dentist, and buy a new pair of kicks.
A time where all of us as a team can all relax simultaneously and know that there is nothing to worry about. A time for us to reflect on the successes and failures of the prior quarter, and prepare mentally for the one to come.
At Quirky we strongly believe in judging output, and not input. We think that absolutely amazing things can happen in the most unconventional of ways- this is what has led us to build this machine in the first place. We will be launching many more products in 2013 then we did this year, even with this new schedule in place.
We are intent on building a business and culture that endures. Running this machine for a few years will not Make Invention Accessible… Setting it up in a sustainable way so that it can run for decades to come is key to accomplishing our mission.
This time is not meant to be a replacement to our current vacation policy, but instead a supplement to it. You’ll note the days which fall under this policy do not always coincide with school calendars, major holidays when you might want to travel home, etc… Our “you’re an adult, take whatever time off you need to live a happy life, see your family, maintain at the top of your game” policy prevails.
We are really interested to see how this works. Our thesis is centered around the fact that this will lead to better work, more beautiful products, and an emotionally balanced team.
Should we all feel it doesn’t- we reserve the right to go back to our old ways.
I personally believe this is a great and exciting way for the machine to endure. Please see the attached revised 2013 calendar which shows days the office will be closed.
Happy breath taking.”
So what does this mean for the Quirky community as a whole? Well, starting Monday, December 31st at 4pm EST, all regularly-scheduled activity at the office will cease, including phone/email support, Wednesday brainstorms, Feedback Friday, and Thursday’s live product evaluation. We will return to our normal weekly schedule on the following Monday (January 7th), renewed and ready to redouble our efforts in pursuit of accessible invention. However, between the 1st and the 7th, the lights will be out at QHQ.
We’ll be releasing more information on the shutdown in the coming days, so keep your eyes on our Twitter and Facebook pages. For now however, we recommend that you mark your calendars, and maybe plan a little breather of your own. You’ve totally earned it!