Why run Hack Days?

Hack days

I've experienced many hack day events over the past few years, and also the advantages of running such events inside an organisation are overwhelmingly clear. For executives considering these events through a lens of uncertainty, you can be feel comfortable knowing that they may be definitely worth the effort.

Some of the clear benefits that can be easily articulated, cover enough ROI value to convince any hardline exec that managing a hack day is not only awesome fun for staff, but will help ignite internal innovation inside the organisation which will encourage better and faster ways of delivering a conclusion to finish product, solution or process. The advantages of running internal hack days can filter all the way through a business, energising the whole company, the teams involved and individual staff members. This could only be an optimistic thing, looking at it through any lens.
Team Collaboration - Bringing the business Together

Among the real issues companies face because they become bigger and much more complex, you are able to sustain momentum and work cohesively with assorted teams throughout the broader business. I've seen companies apply many different operating models during my time i.e. by capability, by function by line of business. These models were implemented using the purpose of enabling broader collaboration also to gain delivery efficiencies, however, all were adopted with varied success. No matter how you swing it, there's always that segmentation of individuals, which can cause friction in just a business. Its easy to lose a record of whom you work well with, and the roles people play inside organisation, that essentially give you support as an employee, when you have your face down busily working away. hackathon

Hack days provide a real life scenario where one can bring different areas (and roles) with the business together to operate collaboratively on a thing that will manage to benefit the organisation. The vision of success to get a hack day happens when you see teams form which have product people, technical people, financially minded people, and business owners working closely together, forming, pitching and building their ideas. Hack day teams formed with mixed roles and backgrounds will be the glue which help build ongoing collaboration, essentially bringing a small business closer together.

Working more closely with various areas of the company often reduces barriers, you won't ever knew are there. It will become the conduit that uncovers different and new opportunities for folks both personally and professionally in just a business. Broader team collaboration in a organisation likewise helps take away the unhealthy "us versus them" mentality that will sometimes occur within different business departments across a business (I'm not really talking healthy competition between teams, After all the caustic "why can they always get more budget and a spotlight than us" type "us versus them").
Hack Day Themes

Internal hack days could be themed to concentrate on creating specific new services, introducing new capabilities or processes, and adopting new technical solutions inside business, such as data analytics, data services or improved sales productivity stemming from your new/improved application. I am involved with hack days which were both themed and un-themed, both develop a a feeling of excitement and creativity delivering great results.

The benefits of making a theme to your internal hack day, would it be can provide your teams help with a crucial subject material your organisation really needs to focus in on. You can find endless themes you could work with when planning a hack day, but I'll list out several to offer you a perception of the different ideas which can be applied.

 Hack on what ever you prefer - Open theme, your teams arrive at choose any idea to work on.
 Hack it forward - Community focused event (charity)
 BIG DATA - Data focused Hack Days (Datathon)
 Internal Systems Hack Days
 Legacy Systems/code Hack Days
 Reporting & Visualisation Hack Days
 Sales Productivity Hack Days
 Past or Present Project Hack Days
 Consumer Focused Hack Days
 Customer Focused Hack Days
 Mobile First Hack Days
 Personalisation Hack Days
 Supply chain Hack Days
 Internal Culture Hack Days
 ...limitless theme ideas.

Just about the most important parts to theming your hack day, is to remember that Hack Days Aren't only because of it or technical folk - Everyone within your organisation could possibly get involved and contribute to a prosperous hack day. Consider the different areas in your business (Finance, Legal, Contract Management, Sales teams, Call Centres) and identify a location of interest (maybe something causing concern, or even an inefficient process/application, cool product) and develop your theme surrounding this. Your theme needs to be a thing that all matter of roles from over the business, would want to be concerned with.
Internal Innovation

Internal Innovation can be quite a term thrown around fairly loosely, and will mean various things to various people. Internal innovation done properly, and also the right goal at heart, can really pay back for an organisation. Giving teams the ones time to avoid and think, be creative, and also to do things not in the box (more regularly) will embed a culture and framework of internal innovation inside the business. The return on your investment in organising and running an inside hack day can be easily demonstrated. Recently, certainly one of Americas also known toy companies, Hasbro, held an interior hack day involving over 150 developers, who developed 45 products that were pitched for the event. This type of activity will be the equal to vast amounts of dollars in traditional development and research costs companies often spend to attain similar results. Hack days harness and encourage internal innovation that spans people across the entire company. This process needs to be better and more rewarding to have an organisation over hiring one or two people who sit and "innovate" his or her daily jobs.

By giving people inside the organisation an opportunity to think outside of the box also to explore stuff that fall outside a full day to day working environments (and role description), companies are creating an atmosphere of creativity and passion offering an exciting, experimental, collaborative and artistic outlet for teams.
Staff Engagement & Retention

One of many strongest components, and in my opinion one of the more valued benefits of running internal hack days will be the pure people related benefits. I'm talking increased staff engagement and inevitably higher staff retention - Maintain your people happy and they hold off, and therefore are more bought into exactly what the organisation does. Individuals are probably the most valuable focal point a company and also the engagement and purchase in in the teams determine your success being a company. Regardless of how good services or products your organisation offers, you're lost with out a strong team using a healthy culture to support your top rated products or services.

I've spent many years leading both small and big teams and possess seen the raw and positive impact that running hacks days is wearing the people within a company. Internally run hack days give staff the opportunity to incept and create something that isn't necessarily section of their standard role description or immediate responsibility, which reduces boredom (groundhog day effect), essentially stimulating people's minds. In addition, it gives people a broader understanding of the business enterprise strategy and how they could align by delivering something that truly benefits the business. It ignites the eagerness within people, to collaborate that will create something amazing.
Success is within the Preparation & Delivery

Hack days require a great deal of preparation and staff engagement to acquire right. Again, you are able to prepare and plan your event based on its theme to make the event really unique and stick out for the staff.

One of the most essential things would be to increase the risk for event fun and don't forget that hack days have to do with individuals involved, and also the varied benefits that can come from it from your people and company perspective.

A few of the things that stand out as important when organising a hack day event are announcing it to the company, giving your employees time for you to think about ideas prior to the event, registration for your event (so that you understand how lots of people will be involved), what sort of you host it (can't be an individual meeting room...), the date you hold it and will it be a multi-day event (maybe a weekend event), networking and power, catering drinks and food (yes, beer helps), preparation according to your theme (do you need specific data sets etc), prizes and trophies, audio/visual and allowing the atmosphere you want.

It's not a straightforward thing to get right, particularly if you haven't experienced a well run Hack Day event previously. For more information on Vivify Labs hosted hack day experiences, visit our micro-site at www.Hackdays.com.au

Quoting a brilliant line, from an all time classic movie (cough) "Build it and they'll come" is really apparent when they talk concerning the success of planning and running your personal hack day. A well organised and well run internal hack day event would be the buzz amongst your employees and envy of one's fiercest competitor for a long period to come.