Since the beginning of innoQ’s existence, 13 years ago, we’ve maintained a regular schedule of so-called “company events”. In my opinion, this is one of the really, really great things about innoQ, and it’s also quite different from what others do. Which is a sufficient excuse for me to write this …
So what’s an innoQ event? All of innoQ’s consultants meet at some more or less remote venue and spend two or three days there, discussing projects, technology, methods, in general: anything of interest to our work. Most of the time we use the classical conference format (an innoQ person presents something, followed by sometimes controversial discussion), but we use other approaches, such as open spaces, pecha kuchas, and lightning talks, too. We occasionally invite guests (we were lucky to have e.g. Steve Vinoski, Michael Hunger, Markus Voelter, Michael Nygard pay us a visit). While the location is mostly somewhere in Germany, we go to Switzerland sometimes, and one event per year is reserved for a trip “far far away” (in the past years we went to e.g. Prague, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Budapest, and Strasbourg; these are the only events where we actually spend a day just sightseeing). Some of the events focus on project reports, others are programming events, one event per year is dedicated to company strategy.
What is amazing to most people I talk to about this is the frequency we do this with, and the resulting amount of time, effort and money we invest. We do 6-8 events per year, 2 of them three days long, the rest two days. Events are always scheduled during regular workdays, typically Thursdays and Fridays; attendance is mandatory. This adds up to 15-18 days per person per year, with the most significant cost factor being the “lost” revenue. Of course there’s also a lot of effort involved in organizing the whole thing: The colleague who does this essentially organizes 6-8 small conferences (we’re regularly about 50 people these days) per year (no small feat; thanks, Thomas).
It’s worth every single cent.
Company events are among the very best things about innoQ. They serve to help us to spend some quality time discussing various topics, whether it’s company strategy, a new programming language, library, framework or product, a new approach to project management, or some very project-specific problem. We’re also able to invite candidate employees to a setting where they have a great chance to get to know how innoQ works.
Most importantly of all, they’re fun. We spend a lot of time doing geek things, but there’s always time for great food, occasional drinks, and socializing and talking about other important things in life.
So if you see me tweet from Barcelona during the next three days (where I plan to spend some time with the works of one of my favorite artists tomorrow), you know why I’m there.