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July 20, 2009 / jasonpinto

Free Me and Scan Me

In a recent post on the 37 Signals blog, they discussed the benefits of “playtime”. It’s a great read — you can check it out here.

Basically, it discusses how important it is to provide a level of  “freedom” to employees. Some of the greatest inventions came as a result of what people stumbled upon thanks to free time.

During a marketing meeting on Friday, we worked on a very formal outline. It listed upcoming trade shows, open campaigns that needed to be reviewed, deadlines, and more.

We had a set time schedule — 45 minutes to get through the list.

Well, a funny thing happened during the meeting – someone went off-topic… and we let it happen.

They started discussing QR Codes. One thing led to another, and excitement filled the conference room. We created a couple of landing pages that used QR Codes for our Print ’09 campaign. We generated a personalized URL/demo site to show it off internally.

And then, we went “crazy”, and placed a QR Code on the sign outside our building.

This certainly was not a technological breakthrough. We already had the software to do this.  But the point was this:

  • We generated excitement inside the office
  • We accomplished marketing tasks for future trade shows and demonstrations
  • We found a new way to attract attention when people drive by our building

During that meeting, the QR code conversation could have squashed after a minute… or “postponed to a future meeting”. Sometimes that type of reaction is necessary to an off-topic subject.

But there has to be a time to let freedom sneak into your formal schedule. Agendas are great — but sometimes they should be viewed simply as guidelines, rather than hard & fast rules.

If you let freedom in, ideas may prosper.

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