Zen Garden Creativity Day

01 August 2014
Andrzej Bobak
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Long-running projects have their drawbacks. Sometimes developers tend to lose creativity and Product Owners focus on long-term goals. Brilliant ideas are pushed to the bottom of backlog, waiting to become obsolete...if the ideas are even captured. What can you do to stimulate creativity in a long term project? The Zen Garden project team found a wonderful solution: a team creativity day. 

The creativity day rules were simple:

  • think of an interesting feature, that can be useful either to the team or to the customers
  • name your feature and gather a team (or work alone if you prefer)
  • implement a working prototype
  • teams vote on the best project
  • winning feature wins a prize

On our creativity day we started work late in the afternoon, when the office was almost empty. This gave us the opportunity to concentrate on our ideas with few disturbances. Seven hours of brainstorming, designing and implementation resulted in developing four new interesting features.

  1. a feature which will automate actions that have to be done once for each new site (setting up configuration pages, etc.)
  2. a faster way for authors to retrieve information about the structure of the Zen Page they are currently editing and the ability to preview it in various themes
  3. a tool for gathering statistics on components usage in a specified area of the site
  4. (our winner) a new approach to creating components by grouping various components into one entity to reuse across the site

After a short demo of all of the features,  our product owner decided that all of them are of great value both to the project and current and future users of Zen Garden. Some of the features will be extended beyond their original scope while others will be integrated into Zen Garden in their current shape following a bit of polishing and the full QA process.