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So what is a FedEx day, and why would a recruitment company want to hold one? Dan Pink talks about it in great detail in his book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth What Motivates Us', but to summarise, it is a 24 hour window to develop a new product. The deal is, you have to deliver overnight, hence a ‘FedEx’ day. When this is finished everyone meets up and votes on what they feel is the best product.

There is no input from management, no agenda, just you and a blank pad of paper. For us, it was about engagement of our people. We constantly share ideas with each other in the office, this was a perfect way to develop them and ensure our team know they are a huge part of our growth plans.

So why would a recruitment company want to hold such a day?  In our view, there is a lot to change in our industry and this would allow us to step back from the day job and think – is what we do the best for our customers?

Secondly, we are a relatively small company and delivering innovation is time consuming and will often take you away from the all important day job. The Fed ex approach was perfect for us as it allowed us to ring fence time to work on projects which we wanted to deliver but couldn’t find room in the diary for.

Firstly, the biggest challenge, getting a team of recruiters off the phone! We began at 1pm, and were due to finish the same time the next day (with a very nice Nepalese curry in the middle!) Our approach was geared to be slightly different - we wanted to focus on a short, medium and long term plans, rather than a pure new product. As we split into groups of 3, it soon became obvious there was no right approach. With plenty of mind maps and post it notes covering walls there was a huge amount of information flowing and soon it was clear we would not be able to cover all we wanted to in 24 hours.

What was interesting, is that initially we felt we couldn’t necessarily deliver a new product (how do you invent a new product in an industry that hasn’t fundamentally changed in 30 years?), however by the end of the day we were sitting on something that we feel could well change what clients and candidates expect from a consultancy.

It has been alleged that by nature Recruitment Consultants are control freaks, opinionated, and suffer from big egos! However, we all agreed the best ideas were mine…..(only joking!!). We agreed the best ideas were those that would challenge the status quo and offer exceptional service to our customers.

The 24 hours were incredibly productive; it allowed us to bring together many ideas, thoughts and some great blue sky thinking without the fear of rejection or failure. Anything goes! And it was this approach that led us to a couple of products that we feel could be ‘game-changers’.  The question for us is "what now"? It is great to formulate the plan but how do we decide what to move forward. We all have the day job to do, but what was apparent, is if we all focus on a project we can complete a huge amount of work in a short period of time. Great for a recruitment company where time really is of the essence.

To say everyone was ‘bought in’ from the outset would be a little off the mark. Could we afford to lose a day’s productivity? Think of those hours not spent on the phone! However, the output on the day, was well worth the input, and all agreed it was a great way to share ideas, work together on projects and come up with something tangible at the end.

So from here, we have agreed to hold the next day in early January where we will develop the products to completion. Without giving too much away they are focused on Social Media and Employer branding, to be revealed early 2013!

From there the plan will be to hold similar events every quarter. Did we deliver overnight, yes, most certainly. Federal Express have ‘expressed’ some concern over the use of their brand name for these events, so…we even thought of an alternative name for the day;

IDEA Day –

Innovation

Delivered

Engagement

Assured

Has anyone run a Fed Ex day that is service rather than product driven? Also, how have small companies approached the fed ex day differently?  We would be interested to hear how you planned the day.

Shane Horn

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