Earlier this month, we had our “fly-in” sprint, when we have our entire distributed team fly in and work out of our Palo Alto office for a few days doing planning, design and pairing on implementation. We have many of our engineering team members at distributed locations, working out of their homes. In addition to leveraging tools such as Skype and Sococo to integrate our teams for day-to-day work, we also get together at our headquarters once in three sprints, which is roughly once a quarter for us.
This past fly-in sprint, we organized our very first hackday event with some basic rules:
- Cool efficiency or product improvement
- Each team should have hackers from across teams
- Company-wide voting determines best hacks
Within a few hours of work including trying different ideas, determining course of action and getting implementation done all within the day, the teams were ready to present at 5:00PM. Over a lot of desserts and some beer, really cool ideas were presented ranging from a Raspberry Pi hack to announce to the company when a large customer signed up, data analytics and adoption of data-driven testing, and some potential feature implementations.
We are big on the MVP approach to product development as a lean startup, so a time-bounded approach to building code hacks actually worked very well with the way we generally do things. We are continuing discussions on some of these to take them to the next level as part of the product offering already.
Our first hackathon event turned out to be one of the most exciting and fun days we have had! Equally importantly, the team generated so many cool ideas to make our product and life here cooler, and we are looking to have more like these in the future.