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Blog Posts by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer, and Eric Spry,
Deputy GIO

DevEx Day: Developing Innovation at the FCC

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer, and Eric Spry, Deputy GIO, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis
May 15, 2013 - 12:14 PM

We recently experimented with a new idea at FCC: giving a small team 24 hours to create something new on their own. We called this DevEx Day (referred to as either DevEx or FedEx Day). The name is a play on the brand name FedEx, where products need to be delivered in 24 hours, combined with a developer day. This innovative approach arose from the tech industry and has expanded into other sectors. The idea is that for 24 hours, participants work on something new and different from their normal work. It is a focused day of learning new skills or honing existing ones, guided only by the participant’s interest. The day starts with each team member explaining his or her project to the group. The next day, members present their finished products, which are reviewed by the group. And like its original namesake delivery company, participants must absolutely positively deliver overnight.

This approach forces participants to focus intensively. Collegial competition adds the impetus to “deliver”. During the DevEx Day, no meetings are scheduled, no calls are taken, and email stays closed for the team.

The results were terrific. Each member of the entire team delivered working software code, and nearly all published this code on the site, github.com using free and open source tools. Several of these projects have already guided larger projects at FCC, and all have inspired new ideas from team members and reignited creative spark. Too rarely do the people writing the code have a say in the complete “stack” of the environment they are working with. DevEx Day puts them in the driver seat; we can learn a lot from where each driver takes us.

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