There are many equally important reasons we host Hack-e-thons (see what we did there?!) at Earnest. Hackathons fundamentally encourage innovation and focus attention on technology as an enabler across the company –
- They are fun networking and team building events, bringing people together who wouldn’t normally get to work with each other.
- They prompt individuals to engage other skills and interests they don’t get to use in their day-to-day jobs to re-energise and motivate.
- Hackathons can be used to bring focus to a particular theme or business requirement.
- They amplify our company culture and allow us celebrate our values – #ownIt, #buildTogether, #pushBeyond, #clientImpact, #beHonest
Our first Hack-e-thon was held in July 2019 when our distributed team members ascended to New York for a combined trip of ‘firsts’ – our first Tech Summit and first Hack-e-thon.
We held our inaugural Distributed Hack-e-thon in April 2020 to foster distributed work practices and collaboration which would become so important in the subsequent year.
We’ve just closed another hackathon and they’re getting better and better!
In line with our standard modus operandi, we’ve compiled an ‘Operating Manual’ to map out steps and considerations for hosting a hackathon.
Hack-e-thon minus 8 weeks:
- The organizing committee – our CTO and Project Management Team – meet a number of weeks out to discuss the theme (usually loosely branded using one of our Values), suitable dates, communication plans and any other pertinent details. A ‘save-the-date’ is sent out to mark in the calendar.
Hack-e-thon minus 4 weeks:
- An announcement is made formally on our intranet launching the hackathon and outlining the logistics of the event.
Hack-e-thon minus 2 weeks:
- We open up a specific Jira project to manage the Project pitches and use this to track progress through the various stages during the week from ideation to demo’able project.
Hack-e-thon minus 1 week:
- Project owners are encouraged to make their pitch on our intranet and gather up the team skills they need for a successful project.
- Our Judging panel is made up from our executive team and a prep-session is organised to brief them on their responsibilities.
- Our initial events ran over 3 days but we’ve evolved them to run over the course of the week, with teams allocating time at their own discretion to keep on top of any critical work activities.
- Teams carry out a kick-off to strategize their week and plot their victories!
- By Thursday, teams are encouraged to prepare their presentations and get their demos into shape –
- showcase how your team came together around your goal and how you collaborated
- show an understanding of the impact your project can have
- demonstrate any learnings, a failed experiment can be just as significant!
- and finally, leave the judges with that ‘WOW’ factor
- The company is invited to a Hack-e-thon Presentation on Friday where each team is allocated 10 minutes to exhibit their projects.
- After the presentations, our Judges convene to pick their winners and voting opens for the coveted People’s Choice award
- Distributed Hack-e-thon Champions
- Best Use of Distributed Work Practices
- Strongest Business Impact
- Best use of Technology
- Most Entertaining
- People’s Choice
- In celebration of asynchronous communication, our winners are announced on our Intranet and all participants are awarded a badge to mark their involvement.
- After the event, we follow up with a participant survey to input to a retrospective.
- We record any learnings in our Operating Manual to make the next event even more successful.