Every quarter, Jive does something that I wish all companies would do: Turn their employees loose to innovate on anything they see fit, any problem that they want to try and solve. At Jive, we call this "hack day". While this started out as primarily an engineering effort, it's spread to other teams and is now something the entire company rallies behind.


Hack day works something like this: Leading up to hack day, you post a blog about the idea you intend to work on. There are no real rules, e.g. you can work on a team, by yourself, make an app, hack the core product, whatever. On Friday morning, you show up and start coding!! You can code as long as you like until 8:30am PT on Monday. That's when we do the demos. Each person/team gets five minutes to show their stuff. So, in just about 30 mintues, I'll start salivating looking at all the cool hacks that people put together. I'm like a kid in a candy store.


Once the demos are complete, there is a team of engineering managers that will evaluate in more details the "top hacks". If your hack is selected, you are given more time to work on it to "productize" your code. There have been some very cool ideas that have come out of hack day that have made it into the product in one form or another. For example, several of the ideas that drive custom streams started out as hack. Many of the hacks make our daily engineering lives easier, e.g. "maven-izing" major parts of the code. Some even made it forms that you would recognize. The native iPhone app, Wikipedia app, and... Jive Anywhere, all started on hack day.


There is an old saying: There's a good book in everyone. Well, I believe there's a good hack in everyone too!