How to Boost Teamwork and Innovation with All-company “Sprints”

July 17, 2013

All-company sprints can center your employees around a common goal and develop new ideas, products or strategies for your company.

Guest blogger Chris Byers of Formstack shares tips on boosting teamwork and innovation.

At Formstack, we complete projects in departmental sprints. Are you sitting at your computer thinking, “Well, I hate running, so I probably won’t like this whole ‘sprint’ thing”? Believe me, this kind of sprint probably won’t require any physical activity - but you might need to flex your mental muscles a bit.

Sprint cycles come from a concept in software; a group of people gather to work on a given development task with greater focus in a condensed period of time. As an online form building company, we use two-week sprint cycles to coordinate updates to our product. The marketing and development teams both plan using sprints, and their resulting projects are implemented by the sales and support teams.

The sprint model is a great way to encourage motivation and communication across all departments in a company and develop a company culture employees will be proud of. But what if you want to push your employees a bit more? All-company sprints can center all of your employees around a common goal and develop new ideas, products or strategies for your company.

Here are a few ways you can take your organization to the next level with an all-company sprint:

  • During the sprint, encourage employees to work outside their normal job responsibility. If your email marketing specialist wants to develop an app, tell him or her to go for it! If a salesperson wants to take a shot at SEO, more power to them! All-company sprints are the ideal time for your employees to discover a new passion or be pushed outside their comfort zones.
  • Put employees in teams that may not be their everyday groups. If your organization is large enough, you might need to split your all-company sprint into teams. But that doesn’t mean the purpose of the activity is lost. Put employees with members of other departments and pair newer employees with more seasoned workers. This will allow your teams to collectively grow and lead to a more comfortable work environment.
  • Allow your team to showcase their leadership skills. Ask them to develop a product or service from scratch … AND have it ready to launch and bring to market at the end of the sprint. All-company sprints like this allow your employees to take a step away from their everyday projects and try their hands at something they've been meaning to do for a while. This process shines light on leaders in your company to emerge who you may not have noticed otherwise. With so many to-dos to make the new product ready for market, every employee will be pushed to his or her limit to get it all finished.

All-company sprints can also be a way to maintain momentum and introduce regular sprint cycles within your organizational structure. Once your employees see the success that comes from working together as a company, they will be more open to working in sprint cycles as smaller teams.

Have you ever completed a feat like this at your company? What was the outcome?

Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack, an online form building and data storage platform. His most recent experiences include co-founding and running an international non-profit.