The idea is to have a Hackathlon - a day long event where the engineers each crank on something:
- valuable to the company
- but not what they’re supposed to be working on and
- that can be taken from idea to working prototype in one day
By having such an event, not only do you have an opportunity to see exciting, and potentially useful ideas being developed, but most importantly you prevent the creativity from being stalled.
Check out Jotspot Hackathalon and Atlassian's FedEx day.