How Can Organizations Adopt the Genius Hour Strategy?
The genius hour is now an emerging trend in education that encourages students to learn based on their passion, background, and interests. It is considered less formal and less standardized than traditional approaches in learning.
Jen Schneider discussed how genius hour works in her article on EdSurge. The concept began with Daniel Pink’s notion of what drives people at work. He said that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are intrinsic motivators needed in the 21st century.
He cited Atlassian and how they had a FedEx day at work as an example of applying autonomy in the workplace. The employees are given 24 hours to work on something they want to, with a team they want to work with, and ship it after the allotted time. It was initially called FedEx day because they have to deliver innovation “overnight.” Since 2005, the program has been called ShipIt. Atlassian’s ShipIt is continuously done and has been modified further to adapt to a remote-working culture in the advent of the pandemic.
Pink explored Richard Ryan and Edward Deci’s self-determination theory of motivation in his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” In their studies, Ryan and Deci discovered that people who worked on a problem-solving task without incentives finished it faster than people who were told they would get payment for their work.
Ryan and Deci concluded that intrinsic motivation, or motivation that originates from personal interest, has more impact than extrinsic motivation, which depends on external rewards, like payment or recognition.
With freedom and dedicated innovation time, learners are able to set their own goals and pace and at the same time boost a genuine love for learning. In an employee’s case, the genuine hour as dedicated innovation time might be a way to build or rebuild a genuine love for what they do.
How can other organizations or even individuals implement their own genius hour and deliver results?
How to Implement the Genius Hour
In the context of education, the genius hour allows students to dedicate one hour per week to work on something that they are passionate about. However, Schneider emphasized that students must follow these three rules:
- “start with an essential question that cannot be answered with a simple Google search”
- “research the question using reputable websites, interviews, and/or print resources”
- “create something – the product may be digital, physical, or service-oriented.”
The rules are lenient as well on the side of Atlassian. Their challenge for every ShipIt day is to drop everything work-related and identify and solve other problems of any kind and any size by working with a team of your choice.
The end results or products are then awarded accordingly. Atlassian is known to be a technical organization, but it does not limit the ShipIt days to only technical problems and solutions. Therefore, the event becomes inclusive and brings out the innovators in everyone.