Here we are…#HackFriday Eve. It’s been a hell of a week.
For those who haven’t been following along, I was granted an amazing opportunity to speak on Innovation at Sprint last week. Knowing that I had 10 minutes of fame and a platform in front of the company’s leaders, I invited innovators from across our corporate campus to join me (video link if you want to see it in action).
They responded… Rather than spending this Friday answering emails, taking a leisurely lunch or cutting out a little early for a happy hour, over 100 innovative Sprint employees will be coming together to “hack the business.” I don’t know how things are going to go, I’m not sure if any of the innovations generated will be viable, I can’t even guarantee that I’ll have a job on Monday for getting 100 employees to vacate their desk for a whole day.
What I do know: We’re going to take 8 hours tomorrow to solve a real business problem, we’re going to bring employees with diverse backgrounds together, we’re going to build stuff (rather than talk about it) and we’re not going to be afraid to fail.
It’s been fun to spend a little time this week witnessing people stepping out of their comfort zones. Here are a couple of my favorite stories of bold employees in the run up to Sprint’s first ever #HackFriday:
- My friend Nate contacted me on Monday. He had a conflict Friday and was asking if he could just show up for the first 1/2 of the day. I said it was completely up to him, but warned that he would probably be ditching his team as they made the critical shift from ideation in the morning time to “building” right around noon. He replied about an hour later and told me he moved his afternoon meeting out to next week and was ALL-IN. Nate became part of the team before the teams have formed….
- Our work phones always append the functional organization name to the end of the Caller ID. Marketing employees have the tag [MKT], Sales [SLS], Network [NTK], Wholesale [WLS], etc… On Tuesday I got a call from someone I didn’t recognize, it had [LEG] at the end of the name. I decided to let that one go to voicemail. I checked it a few minutes later and it was someone from….you guessed it…legal. The message said he wanted to talk with me about #HackFriday. I braced myself for a battle, sure this attorney wanted to talk about who had the rights to the intellectual property developed during #HackFriday or how on earth hourly employees would count their time when taking the so called “Day ON.”I was surprised to get this question after some brief small talk: “So…can anyone really attend this thing? Like you would be ok if a couple lawyers showed up?”I let out a deep breath and exclaimed “ABSOLUTELY!! See you Friday!”
- On Wednesday a Sprint employee I didn’t know appeared at my desk with an arm extended to introduce himself, he didn’t look a day older than 24. Turns out he was a couple years out of college, relatively new to the company and working in our accounting department. He proceeded to tell me how excited he is for #HackFriday but his boss wasn’t going to allow him to take a “Day ON” to come participate. I was upset with this short sighted manager, but before I could express my frustration this fresh-faced employee told me that he was going to take PAID TIME OFF and his manager was ok with that.
There were plenty more stories like this….probably hundreds that I haven’t heard but hope to hear over the next 24 hours. These people are all taking a GIGANTIC, uncomfortable leap. I have a idealistic mission of creating a culture of innovation at Sprint. Step one is getting people out of their comfort zones, step two is making that feel normal, step three will be growing it at a massive scale. #HackFriday may not accomplish all of that, but I can guarantee the PEOPLE who show up tomorrow will.
In addition to the people who are learning to step out of their comfort zone, I have some REALLY close friends who are also taking gigantic leaps to make #HackFriday a success: Cari Ferrara, Mitch Rice, Stephanie Lashley, Wade Burris, Tina Peterson, David Rondeau, Jason Rincker, Doug Dresslaer, Brian Mills, Lana Graf, Kevin McGinnis, Matt Gunter, John Tudhope, Melinda Parks, Scott Zalaznik and probably many others who are just as deserving (tell me if I forgot you and I’ll add your name).