Looking for a place to foster creative side projects and innovation, Microsoft has launched a incubation space for their employees called the Garage. According to this CNET article, the “Garage” is a workshop-type place that gives employees access to tools, a place to experiment and the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues who share similar interests and skills. It also is a place where some fun creativity can happen:
In addition to getting the new space, the Garage also hosts “science fairs,” where employees put together poster-board presentations to show off their creations. Judges, wearing white lab coats, select winners, who get to ignite a homemade volcano dubbed Mount St. Awesome as their reward. Microsoft has also begun holding “Garage weeks,” where business units stop working on Microsoft products. Instead, employees focus on pet projects. Sometimes, their creations have nothing to do with Microsoft’s business whatsoever. One employee spent a week working on a self-leveling skateboard, something of a Segway for the skate crowd. Sometimes, they’re only peripherally related, such as an immunization tracker application for Windows Phones to help parents keep tabs on the different vaccines their children had received.
This is a fascinating idea that has a place in almost any industry — including law. Imagine if a law firm set up a “Garage” for lawyers (along with invited clients) to think together on ways to bill differently, serve clients better and explore new practice areas.
If you had an opportunity to build your firm’s garage, what would go in it? What kinds of things could you accomplish if you and your colleagues had the time and place (and permission) to innovate and think differently about your business.