Ghyston’s Innovation Day

Working remotely hasn't stopped our culture of learning. In this blog post Charles Rea shares what happened on our latest innovation day.

At Ghyston, we're always on the lookout for ways to improve our skills and processes. Back at the start of this year we declared 2020 to be our "Year of Learning", and while we couldn't quite have foreseen just what a year it would be, we have managed to run a bunch of initiatives focused on developing our knowledge.

The highlight of the year for me has been our Innovation Days: a day for everyone at Ghyston to step away from their day-to-day work, and spending time on anything they like in order to either develop their own skills or improve Ghyston in some way.

For our latest Innovation Day, we saw a real variety of topics chosen to work on. Some of us used the day to investigate various new and upcoming technologies, and to see how they could be used on future Ghyston projects. Several tackled the tough task of making Ghyston better, ranging from building tools to automate time-consuming tasks, to documenting our processes to help us train our newer developers. Others used the time to focus on learning more about the technologies that underpin much of the work Ghyston produces.

Here are some of my highlights:

  • Jake built a tool to automate pulling project process stats out from Jira, to automatically generate a historical burnup chart of progress against time
  • Andrew learnt about the inner workings of modern authentication protocols by manually integrating against an Open ID Connect server, without the help of any pre-existing libraries
  • Alex prototyped a C# code formatter, making use of the Roslyn compiler
  • Nickie, Rich, Thea and Dani teamed up across the sales & delivery teams to document Ghyston's processes to give clients an insight to how we work
  • I worked on creating clud, Ghyston's own miniature cloud, which uses Kubernetes and Docker to allow one-click deployment of Ghyston's internal applications and side projects

From our experience of running multiple of these events, we've found a really key benefit of Innovation Day: encouraging collaboration. At a time when we're all working remotely, and it's harder for us to get the entire office collaborating and working together, Innovation Days have been really useful in achieving cross-pollination of ideas between people working across different projects and teams in Ghyston. So for example, we've had members of the sales team working closely with developers, and both groups getting the chance to get more insight into how the other group works, which is hard experience to get when we're all working on our usual day-to-day work.

I'd really recommend that other companies who are looking for ways to develop their employees think about running this sort of event. If you're interested, I've shared a few tips in the past for how to structure events like this to get the biggest benefit out of the day.

 

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