So . . . how’s your week going?

For me, and perhaps for you, this week is like any other — a tangle of deadlines, meetings, phone calls, email, and dreams deferred.

But in the hallowed halls of Twitter, something else is going on. It’s “Hack Week.” For seven days, Twitter employees will “all be building things that are separate from our normal work and not part of our day-to-day jobs.”

It’s another example of the growing trend of companies tapping the power of autonomy to deliver results. And it joins similarly inspired efforts like Atlassian’s brilliant FedEx Days — a concept that is spreading like benevolent kudzu at companies and even schools across North America — and the 20 percent time initiatives at Google and elsewhere.

On its Engineering blog, Twitter offers a few more details:

There aren’t many rules – basically we’ll work in small teams and share our projects with the company at the end of the week. What will happen with each project will be determined once it’s complete. Some may ship immediately, others may be added to the roadmap and built out in the future, and the remainder may serve as creative inspiration.

As I’ve repeated and repeated and repeated (and repeated? – Ed.) over the last several months, “management” does not lead to engagement. It’s a technology designed to get compliance. (For a related view, check out Gary Hamel’s outstanding book, The Future of Management). The only way people truly engage is through self-direction. Which is why Hack Weeks, 20 percent time, and FedEx Days are so urgent – and why, in many ways, they’re the future of business.

TechCrunch has a good story on Hack Week
The creation tale of Twitter itself revolves around autonomy

4 Responses to “Motivation Twitter-style”

  1. Darren Poke says:

    Great advice Dan,

    I’ve been thinking about Google’s 20% time initiatives myself lately and need to make sure that I do this myself (and write about the results).

    Thanks for the reminder,


  2. rdp says:

    I wonder if you have considered taking a look at universities –your law school alma mater, for instance– that seem to have embraced management schemata that quash autonomy, increase high-paid directorships, and generally work to turn professional employees into widgets. Why are so many high-profile universities –which one might expect to showcase progressive workplace strategies– embracing instead the failed corporate squeeze-blood-from-a-stone management model?

  3. I am going to introduce this too at my company in the way my consultants want it themselves. Intrinsic motivation and self direction are the only way. So they have to decide on the details. They have free time and everything but it has to be their own idea.

  4. Mike Reading says:

    I love the concept, and use a lot of your stuff in my Motivation Made Easy course that I present to teachers. You mention that the concept is being picked up in schools. At this stage I have been encouraging teachers to allow their students to have more autonomy over their task and team, but I would love to see some examples of where this is taking place at a whole school level.

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