HACK, HAX, Internal Innovation

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I now have initiated, participated in, and been blown away by internal hackathons with two companies and have executed on them in two countries. Having just gotten back from a multi-week trip to Ukraine working with our developers, I want to relay a message to our team: you are great – thank you so much for putting up with me!

At MeetMe we called it HACK; at Stuzo we are calling it HAX. Same concept, different teams. I am blown away by the output of the events – by what can be done in less than 2 days. Same rules as always: start on Thursday, make sure there is lunch and dinner, then some beer (OK in Ukraine some Vodka, and ice-cream eventually showed up). Then keep it rolling through Friday with a 4:30pm demo time. Around 4pm, I always start getting nervous. Will the team pull it off? Will they have a real demo? Will others see value?

I am always asked – and, honestly, always ask myself – why should we do a hackathon? What is the concrete value for the company? Here are my answers; some are feel-good, some are concrete.

Hackathons lead to eventual shippable products, they lead to stronger teams, they help you understand how much your team believes in the vision, and they show you how well that vision is communicated within the organization.

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