Our team has started running Ship It Days (a short write-up here) as a way of driving innovation for the company. The basic idea is that the whole development team gets 2 days to work on small projects, each of which will either deliver a feature for the company or increase the technical knowledge within the team.
As an example, over 2 days this week, we [a team of 2 developers and 2 testers] produced a heatmap of phone calls in progress on our network, across the world. We produced code to surface phone call data, map the source and destination phone number prefixes to geographic points, and overlay the routes on Google Maps' world map. The map is likely to be displayed in the Network Operations Centre as a dashboard item to see how busy the network is, and by customers to see what calls are in progress on their contact centre.
Next time, I'll choose a project that scares me.