What happens when you throw a few dozen techies and non-techies from completely different teams together for 24 hours and give them the time and space to work on cool ideas - with the aim of designing innovative products for the cloud? This is called a hackathon and it's a tradition at Seibert Media - even in Corona times. And so, on March 3rd, at 1:00 p.m., a total of eleven motivated, interdisciplinary teams got together to bring ideas alive both on-site and remotely. But can that work? Spoilers: it can!
Not just for developers
Our hackathon team had prepared thoroughly in advance for the event. Especially for newbies and colleagues in non-technical roles, there were several methodical and technical training sessions in the weeks before to help everyone understand the event which as well as provide useful tools for success. Topics offered included "My First Hackathon", "Design Thinking Challenge", "Business Model Canvas", "Prototyping without Code" and a good dozen other ones! They were a success! Over 100 employees were able to organize into 11 projects (all with the motto: Let's get cloud!). A few weeks later, the respective initiators presented their ideas in short elevator pitches at our “Theme Marketplace”. In this way, each participant could then decide for himself what he or she wanted to work on.
Varied and exciting: Projects at the Hackathon 2022
What have the teams been working on for 24 hours? These were the projects:
- "Decider-App - making decisions together" had set itself the goal of simplifying the communication and documentation of decisions - as a digital cloud-based solution.
- In the “Nerdy Headquarters” team, a technically talented group got together to give our new headquarters a few really unique gimmicks and furniture.
- The idea of "Implementing learning content directly in Confluence, Jira & Co." was aimed at e.g. mapping video-based learning content where and when it is needed.
- A “Training portal” with largely automated processes that is easily accessible to everyone and may even be connected to other systems (e.i. Jira) was also worked on by a team.
- The inclusive theme “Accessibility for the Cloud” focused on making products accessible. The team examined existing apps and solutions and modified them accordingly.
- Tinder was yesterday - "Jinder" is tomorrow: As a basis for a possible Confluence app, a macro should be developed with which one can view a certain bulk of Jira tickets and rate them according to the "hot or not" Tinder principle. Created for more transparency and getting “non-specialist” colleagues involved.
- One all-female group focused on video and marketing ideas for our “Women in Tech” event.
- “Less effort in time tracking thanks to AI” was another innovative project that gave some employees hope for the future.
- As in the previous year, the "Checklist App" was further developed - with the aim of marketing it as a cloud app on Atlassian Marketplace.
- The focus of "Take a look at Looker" was tool evaluation, because even though the self-service BI tool exists to simplify data analysis and research for end users, it's not exactly a cheap option to use.
- Last but not least, the team “annual financial statements” used the hackathon to get a closer look at what happened in 2021.
The hybrid format
But how could teams that were partly on site and partly in the home office work together? We used the cool and "hackathon-appropriate" platform Gather. As a crew, the teams gathered at the “Cybert Space Station”, a kind of space station in the cloud. Here they could sit down at special "tables" and work together on their project - because a separate video meeting was held at each of these tables. You could also walk through the aisles of our "Space Station" and chat with people you met, almost like the casual hallway small talk that we all know from pre-Covide office life. This gave the Hackathon 2022 an almost cozy atmosphere, despite the hybrid format.
The teams organized themselves when and how long they worked – but the curtain had to close by 1:00 p.m. on Friday. The evening before, pizza was ordered for the people who were at the office, and delicious, healthy snacks were prepared by our new chef Thorsten. In the home office, food delivery service Lieferando took care of everything at the company's expense. There were informal appointments where those who were still working and would like to have a little chat could get together (e.g. “Meet the night owls” at midnight). In this way, everyone set their own individual hackathon rhythm.
Who won the (space) race?
On Friday afternoon all teams presented their results. These turned out to be quite different. Some teams had used the pages provided in our wiki plus a Miro-board, others had packed everything into presentations and still others were already able to show their first prototypes. Each team was allowed to present for 4 minutes. In the end, the voting aka the “Rocket Race” took place in Menti.
The “Decider App” project rose to the top among the competition, winning Hackathon 2022. The winners get to look forward to a trophy and a 3-course meal from our chef in the new Seibert Media Headquarters!
Conclusion: That was the Hackathon 2022
From the point of view of a non-techie, I can only say: I had a lot of fun! Excitingly, my team followed a no-code approach and the mix of a developer on the one hand and a content person on the other worked extremely well. It was also impressive to see how much can be achieved when a handful of people get together and work on a topic filled with fun, energy and no external distractions. At the same time, you could get to know colleagues better, with whom you may not have had the chance to associate with in everyday life, discover things in common and simply try something new.
I'll definitely be there again - at the next hackathon in 2023!
- Our journey to working remotely at //Seibert/Media
- Our Journey to Working Remotely at //Seibert/Media pt. 2
- Agile Organization: Hackathons at //SEIBERT/MEDIA
- Hackathon at //SEIBERT/MEDIA – Field report on developing the EasyEvents plugin for Confluence
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