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In 2009, I went to volunteer in the Favelas of Rio de Janiero, with the intention of changing the world! I may not have ‘changed the world’ in my months abroad, but what I did get was a different perspective that has been invaluable to me in my life and in my career. When I was presented with the opportunity to speak about Agile at Salesforce at the Scrum Alliance conference in Rio de Janiero, I was given another opportunity to gain a fresh perspective, this time in relation to Agile and Technology.

We have a program in Salesforce Engineering called ‘PTOn’ in which employees are encouraged to take 1 day per month to do something different than their day-to-day work. Some people use their time to create new applications on our Platform; some people work to improve our automation processes; and, others spend time reading and learning a new technology. I chose to speak at the Scrum Alliance conference to get our Agile story out to a larger, global audience and to inspire learning and innovation. I wanted to learn from an Agile community of engineers in another country.

The experience I had was better than I could have imagined. I was received with a warm welcome, people wanted to hear the Salesforce story and I presented to a full room, with standing room only. I was able to share our Agile journey and everything we learned that makes us who we are as a company. It felt great to give back by sharing our experience with the hopes that other companies could benefit. In answering the insightful questions that I was asked, I realized how much we use our own product to run our Agile processes. We use Chatter to collaborate and share; we use our Platform to build our in-house Agile tool and we test the limits of our own product as we use it.

In taking the time to do this presentation, not only was I able to share my knowledge, I gained a new sense of confidence challenging myself to do something new. I learned how our product helps customers create a more collaborative and transparent corporate culture, and how the Brazilian Government is using Agile to run their processes. I also met a team that is gamifying the Agile process with their software. The list is endless. Everything I learned, I am bringing back to my role as an Agile coach and I am better equipped to serve our company.

Innovation doesn’t just happen; you need to take the time to create space in which new ideas emerge. Nothing exciting comes out of doing the same thing day in and day out. When you step back from the daily routine of your life, you get the ability to see the bigger picture and look at things in a different way. It’s easier to solve problems and you are imbibed with a fresh dose of energy and passion to solve the problems you are facing.

I encourage you to take the time to take your own ‘PTOn’, taking at least 1 day per month to get out of your daily routine. Not only is it fun, but any time we put ourselves in a situation that challenges us and pushes us to grow, we develop in a way that better allows us to serve ourselves, our companies and our community.

I am grateful to work for a company that not only encourages, but expects and fosters an environment of innovation among its employees.

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