An inside look at Thinkific’s Blue Sky Week

Dalena Nguyen
Jan 11 · 5 min read
Demo Day at Thinkific’s January 2020 Blue Sky Week

Here at Thinkific, our team is driven by our mission to revolutionize the way people learn and earn online, and we’re always looking for ways to serve our course creators and their students better. With this in mind, we host Blue Sky Week every quarter at Thinkific, which is an opportunity to drive and cultivate innovation.

During Blue Sky Week, every member of our team has the opportunity to pitch an idea they have or are passionate about to push the boundaries of what we’ve already built at Thinkific. We’re proud to give our team the freedom to work on things that are both meaningful to them and that make an impact on our company.

Blue Sky Week is an opportunity for anyone at Thinkific to propose new ideas, build out their projects, and share their vision for our platform, regardless of their job function or which department they work in. We know that you don’t have to be a software engineer or product designer to have a great idea! #TeamThinkific is made up of people who are not only great at their jobs but are also passionate about the work we do and helping our customers be successful (it’s one of our core values, after all).

“Blue Sky Week is one of my favourite moments of the year. It’s not only a great time to try new things and explore, but it’s also recognition from the leadership team that everyone is equally capable and eager to come up with innovative ways to impact our customers and our business. The innovation aspect is a fascinating facet of BSW, and I always end the week amazed by what other people were capable of delivering at the end.”

Vinicius, Principal Engineer

The concept is simple: pitch, build, and then demo to the team!

Pitch

Blue Sky Week starts with a Monday morning pitch session. In the weeks leading up to Blue Sky Week, our team is encouraged to think about ideas for projects they’d be interested in building out and share them on a dedicated Asana board. They’re prompted with questions like “What problem does it solve?” “What opportunity do you see here?” and “Why would it be cool?” These ideas can be anything from a brand new business idea, a new feature to Thinkific, an improvement to an existing feature, an internal tool, or just hacking using new technology.

With so many ideas out there, how do you know where to start? While we would never limit what kinds of projects our team members can work on, we share themes for each iteration of Blue Sky Week in order to offer some direction and guidance. These themes are aligned with our product strategy and allow people with the goal of pushing their projects into production a better sense of how they can make more immediate impacts on our product. Some of the themes we’ve focused on include improving how course creators can build and sell their courses, supporting course creators’ ongoing success, and improving onboarding for new course creators.

Build

Following the initial pitches, participating team members have the opportunity to choose which project (or projects) they want to work on and form project teams. During Blue Sky Week our entire focus is on these innovation projects, so our team members quickly break into teams and get to work!

“I look forward to Blue Sky Week as it’s the time we are free to let our imagination run and try new technologies, discuss ideas, experiment and work with other people that are not part of our daily routine. It’s an amazing bonding activity and also an excellent opportunity for innovation. During the build phase (after ideas are pitched, we choose what we want to work on and start building it), it’s amazing to see the energy and the knowledge shared!”

Carol, Lead Software Engineer

Demo

On Friday, the project teams wrap up their projects and start preparing to share what they’ve been working on with our entire team. These demos allow everyone at Thinkific to get involved — not only do you get to learn about the amazing things teams have been able to build in just a week, but there’s also the opportunity to vote for the project that wowed you the most!

There are a couple of different awards we give out during Blue Sky Week (which come along with a sweet prize — bragging rights and a pretty cool Lego block).

People’s Choice

Everyone who joins us to watch the demos has the chance to vote for their favourite project.

Product Choice

This award is given out by a panel of judges who are selected from across different departments and rewards the project that best reflects validation, execution, and potential for release within one of the current Blue Sky Week themes.

While we’re always pushing ourselves to learn and grow (another one of our values) and encourage some friendly competition during Blue Sky Week, “winning” is far from the goal. Rather, we use the competition factor to foster a positive, innovative, and high-performing culture that persists even after each Blue Sky Week comes to an end.

At Thinkific, we’re never satisfied with the status quo so we’re always looking for any room for improvement. After each Blue Sky Week, we survey our team to find out what worked, what didn’t, and how we can further support innovation for the next one. This feedback from our team has been invaluable — it’s why we introduced themes, provided more resources (aka new tools and technology to use!), and why each version of Blue Sky Week gets better and better!

Blue Sky Week is something our entire team looks forward to and it’s always an exciting way to kick off a new quarter. It’s truly a celebration of everyone who has contributed to a culture of innovation at Thinkific!

Stay updated on what #TeamThinkific is getting up to (from Blue Sky Week to socials and beyond!) by connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Want to be part of building something incredible? Our team is growing and we’re always looking for talented and innovative people to join us in every department! Click here to learn more about our current job openings.

Thinkific

Thinkific is a software platform that enables entrepreneurs…

Dalena Nguyen

Written by

Talent Branding Specialist @Thinkific. Big on genuine engagement + real (human) connection. Let’s talk @Canucks, travel, #BCtech, #TeamThinkific. Opinions mine.

Thinkific

Thinkific

Thinkific is a software platform that enables entrepreneurs to create, market, sell, and deliver their own online courses. We are revolutionizing the way people learn and earn online. www.thinkific.com

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