FedEx Days to Deliver Results

Give Your Employees a Day to Work on Anything They Want

People often fall into a trap of thinking that Six Sigma projects have to take weeks or months. In Daniel Pink's book, DRiVE, he writes of an Australian software company, Atlassian, that created one-day bursts of autonomy that allow employees to takle any problem they want and then show results in 24-hours. It's called a FedEx day because you absolutely, positively have to deliver something overnight.

Instead of off-site team building exercises, Pink suggests turning your next off-site into a FedEx day "where employees can work on anything they choose, however they want, with whomever they'd like. Impose just one rule: People must deliver something—a new idea, a prototype of a product, a better internal process—the following day."

At Atlassian, a FedEx day begins at two P.M. on a Thursday. Some teams work though the night. Then at four P.M. on Friday, they show the results. "This odd little exercise has produced an array of software fixes that might otherwise never have emerged." Says one engineer, "Some of the coolest stuff we have in our product today has come from FedEx days."

Your FedEx Day

Have a delay, defect or deviation that's irritating you and your customer? Have a FedEx day to do root cause analysis on the problem and slap in a process change by the end of day tomorrow.

In the phone company, we were unnecessarily scheduling repair appointments for customers when the problem lay inside of our switching centers, not their home. We didn't know it was a "FedEx Day", but a group of employees got together on a Thursday, figured out that if a standard "loop test" from the central office to the customer's home and back was okay, then the problem had to be inside of the switching system in the central office.

The team changed the process on Friday morning, trained repair service phone reps on Friday afternoon and cranked it up on a Monday morning.

Result: 9,000 fewer repair appointments per month without increasing mean time to repair. And that was just one of fourteen states. The improvement was replicated in other states saving the company and customers days of frustration, extra callbacks, and so on.

What could you fix with a FedEx Day?

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2012 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537,"

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