What is Fedex Day?

Recently I was lucky enough to be part of a team who won the 2014 Suncorp Innovation Day. This event was heavily based on the concept known as a Fedex Day (known variants include Ship It Day or Hackathon).

What is Fedex Day? Well you'll be surprised to know that it did not originate from Fedex, one of the world's largest express transportation companies. Altassian, an Australian software company are noted as the creators of the concept which has been adopted by organisations across the globe.

Rob Van Lanen best sums up Fedex Day as "a 24-hour event in which employees deliver innovation to the company they work for. It is called FedEx Day, because you have to deliver overnight, like the parcel delivery company. A FedEx Day is a fixed time box in which people are not disturbed for regular work. Within this time box, employees have total autonomy over the project they are enthusiastic about. They decide for themselves what they will be working on, who they are going to work with, and how they are going to do it." In 2014, the Suncorp Innovation (Fedex) Day's theme was to improve the customers' experience.

Suncorp has held Fedex Days in previous years but what made 2014 different were these 2 key factors:
1. the event was open to all staff (including suppliers and vendors), not just IT staff, and
2. the final round of judging performed by business investors of the Suncorp Group (external stakeholders).

The 2nd point was a bold and innovative move as it provided an opportunity for Suncorp to showcase its innovative culture to its major shareholders.

In summary, the day was structured as follows:

  1. Start time was Thursday 12pm and finish time was Friday 12pm. Team presentations were held on the Friday afternoon.
  2. There were 116 ideas originally submitted, and from those ideas 72 teams were formed by staff over 8 locations/sites.
  3. 1st round of judging was conducted by 4 judging panels (1 panel for 2 locations) to select the top 16 teams.
  4. 2nd round of judging occurred the following week where the top 16 were reduced to the top 4.
  5. 3rd and final round of judging occurred in 1 location (all teams brought to a central location to jointly present to company investors) where a winner would be selected.

While a winner may have been selected at the end, the true benefit of this event is the delivery of over a hundred ideas to improve the customers' experience, essentially in just 24 hours. This provides the organisation with an array of innovative ideas which it may invest in further. The day also promotes team work, collaboration and new problem solving techniques. 

If your organisation currently does not hold such an event, I strongly recommend to suggest it to your leadership team. For more information, I suggest reading these posts by Rob Van Lanen and Altassian

Fedex Day essential ingredient: PIZZA (REF: svenpet.com)


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