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Why have We Decided to Hold Hackathons More Often?

Erika Krapavickaitė • Project manager • 2021-09-20

The idea of hackathons stems from our corporate values that are built on the concept of improvement. Continued growth and moving forward are the key values both for the head of our company and our team, and hackathons have become a part of our internal communication.

How have we come up with this idea? Our company holds extensive international experience and   develops   a   wide   range   of   solutions   contributing   to   the   simplicity   of   our   clients’ processes, internal systems, and providing even greater value to their end clients. During the discussions   with   our   team,   we   have   noticed   that   while   caring   for   our   clients   we   have forgotten   to   take   care   of   ourselves.   We   then   started   exploring   the   ways   to   engage   the experience and knowledge within our company, improve our internal processes, and address the emerging issues.

Knowing   that   each   of   our   team   member   has   a   lot   to   offer   in   terms   of   experience   and knowledge, we decided that we wanted to share that with others, grow and improve together. Hence, we decided to prioritize hackathons as a great way to optimize the processes within the company and learn together, share thoughts and ideas.

How have we started organizing hackathons? At first, we formed two teams, picked the team leaders who would guide and assist their respective teams. We allocated a few weeks to ideas generation. The team members had and enjoyed an absolute freedom: each of them could show their own experience, creativity and other skills and help to find an idea that would be useful for the company. The teams met again after a few weeks to generate a shared solution: each of the members had the chance to present their own idea or proposals on improvement of the company’s performance. Each participant could freely choose the way to pitch the idea: starting with presentations to prototype building – there was a lot of room for creativity! And all of it - during the working hours! All the participants pitched their proposals during the idea acceptance phase, followed by a couple of hours of discussions. Each team then picked one idea to continue developing during the hackathons. Each idea was considered and the solution suitable for everyone was selected by voting. After idea acceptance, the teams rushed to start the activities, and we launched our hackathon marathon. The timeframe set for the marathon was several months. During this period, we would complete our work week and dedicate the Fridays to idea implementation, solution and prototype development. Both teams would present their progress to each other every couple of weeks to track the progress, share the issues encountered, and hear out the colleagues’ recommendations.

What is the value of hackathons to us?

  1. Each team member contributes to the development of innovative solutions that help everyone to perform even better and to bring even more value to the company and clients.
  2. The   employees   feel   and  have   the  opportunity  to  be   pro-active  in  development  of decisions.
  3. We learn, grow and improve together in terms of expertise and share our knowledge with other team members.

What benefit do I see as a project manager?

Besides the benefits of improved team building, communication skills and improvement, the hackathons  are the way to see the actual first steps from which the need to improve the processes begins, how the tasks are prepared, what is included in them. Observation of these processes   taking   place   during   the  hackathons  help   identify   the   client   and   company's expectations even better and offer even more refined solutions to our clients.