Software solutions firm Mind Over Machines recently gave its employees a day off, but not because of snow or a federal holiday.
No, Mind Over Machines gave its team a day off from their normal work to launch Learning Days, during which employees engage in team learning and professional development.
“As a consulting firm, Mind Over Machines is nothing without great people,” says CEO and Founder Tom Loveland.“Learning Days helps us explore new technologies, benefit from each other’s knowledge, and attract outstanding new colleagues. Nothing excites dedicated technophiles more than learning!”
Loveland based his idea for Learning Days on successful programs like Google’s 20 Percent Time, Atlassian’s quarterly ShipIt Days, and Yahoo’s Hack Days, all of which encourage employees to build or improve company software products and systems under the notion, “Have an idea? Try it!”
“But where Google and Yahoo focus their people on exploring new product ideas for the company, Mind Over Machines focuses on growing the individual. What interests you? What do you want to learn that you can’t get to during your normal workday? Which co-workers share your interests?” Loveland explains.
While Loveland stresses that learning is an essential part of the Mind Over Machines DNA, he notes that Learning Days also has a practical application. “Companies hire us because we’re leaders in our field, and we maintain that edge with continuous learning,” he says.
“Learning Days was a great experience,” notes software engineer Matt Reeping. “Aside from the impromptu Nerf snow ball fights, I enjoyed the challenge of building an application in a framework most of us had never used.”
Senior software engineer Chris Brune agrees, adding, “I loved the collaboration, not only within teams, but across teams. We put together people who didn’t know each other well, and by the middle of the day everyone was having these great conversations.”
Mind Over Machines plans to hold its second all-hands Learning Day this spring, according to Loveland. “I’m a fellow geek and I get it. Learning new methods and delivering ever better solutions is what it’s all about for us techies. And our own professional growth benefits our clients and our firm, which in turn creates ongoing learning opportunities. It’s a virtuous cycle and the right thing to do.”