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Haefele PLAY. Create. Explore. Tinker.

Haefele PLAY. Create. Explore. Tinker.

Albert Einstein said “Play is the highest form of research” – this quote became real for us near the end of 2018 with the stark realisation that, as a business, we were not “playing” nearly enough and we needed to do something about that.

At the same time that we launched Haefele RISE, we launched Haefele PLAY and this blog aims to share some of the reasons why and what we hope to achieve from this sibling initiative.

Where the purpose of RISE is to provide structure and intent behind training, mentoring and coaching, the purpose of PLAY is to provide the same for creating, exploring and tinkering, as part of the answer to get us “playing” more.

What do we mean by Create, Explore, Tinker?

Create.

While we work on a number of interesting projects for local and international clients, ultimately, we develop for a client’s requirement on their roadmap and for their intellectual property. While the variety and mix of industries we get to explore is rewarding, we now have the capacity to consider a future where we also create products of our own, harnessing the untapped ideas within Haefele. PLAY provides the structure for us to begin evolving from a purely professional services consultancy to a hybrid product company.

Currently, we have five such product ideas in the mix, each at varying minimum viable product maturity, so watch this space. Right now, each of these ideas is stretching us and we’re using them to prepare us for life in the product space. This is an exciting strategic course for us, and it feels like PLAY is just the beginning.

Explore.

We are fortunate to have a strong network among our local and international clients – most of our clients haven’t needed a trial or taster with us before kicking off an engagement, but as Marshall Goldsmith writes, “What got you here won’t get you there”. Which is why PLAY brings a commitment to build capacity to explore, to take steps in faith with potential new clients and engage in trials, tasters and proofs of concept at risk, as an investment in a long-term technical partnership. We’re excited to have the capacity to do this, and since opening this avenue, we have already engaged in three such trials, two of which have already proven successful as we ushered in two new clients in the past three months.

Tinker.

Along with the steps for Create and Explore, we wanted to create a space (and a budget) in the business where engineers could tinker with new areas of technology, new pieces of hardware and/or software, a place where they could “play” free of client expectation. Free of any expectation. Just play. Whether it be with IOT sensors, Arduino boards, some VR/AR equipment, a budget is there for anything they’d like – within reason of course.

In my first blog, Why We Exist, I touched on three things that make developers happy, the first thing being “they need constant challenge”. PLAY is designed to speak directly to this need. Most of our local and international client projects are not short on challenge, both technical and otherwise, but as a talented group of engineers, there is something special that comes with tinkering in a brand, new space.

Equally, as a talented group of engineers, we have our eye on certain trends, technologies and industries to get involved in, and what better way to gain experience in those technologies to prepare ourselves for those future clients.

Let’s build a robot!

Since launching PLAY in February 2019, this tinkering has led to two integrated 3D printers and a bunch of related equipment from Raspberry Pi’s to soldering irons, and has kick-started our journey with a robotics project, InMoov (inmoov.fr), the first open-source 3D printed life-size robot, a project driven by Gael Langevin, a French sculptor and designer.

This project brings together a host of technologies at the forefront of industry trends from 3D printing, robotics, IOT, image and audio recognition, and Machine Learning to name a few – making it the ideal tinker project for our team.

Below are a few pics of our PLAY lab and the InMoov build so far. Our GoPro is ready for our first build video, so watch out for our social media and future blogs on our progress!

While they have different purposes, there is an intentional, natural overlap and symmetry to Haefele RISE (train. mentor. coach) and Haefele PLAY (create. explore. tinker) as sibling initiatives.

We believe there is much in common between the disciplines of software development and the creative expression in art, music and film. If you consider a creative, artistic endeavour such as painting, sculpting or glassblowing, those artists thrive with the same two intentions – mentoring and playing.

It’s important for those artists to value mentoring, to find time and space to work with, and be mentored by, more experienced artists (RISE), and equally important for those artists to value playing, to find time and space to play with their materials, experiment with their art form, and tinker with their tools (PLAY) not just to hone their craft, but to find their inspiration.

We believe software professionals are no different – those who are mentored stand out, and those who play are unstoppable.

Written by Alan Haefele, Managing Director at Haefele Software.