Hackdays with Twists

Our Hackday mascot at Grofers Every Hackday at grofers has encompassed brilliant ideas while enabling teams to step back from their regular work activities. This event not only encourages our employees to explore uncharted territories but also fosters an environment of creativity—a good number of projects from the hackday end up getting deployed on production, creating […]

Our Hackday mascot at Grofers

Every Hackday at grofers has encompassed brilliant ideas while enabling teams to step back from their regular work activities. This event not only encourages our employees to explore uncharted territories but also fosters an environment of creativity—a good number of projects from the hackday end up getting deployed on production, creating real-world impact.

Until now, we have successfully hosted three Internal Virtual Hackdays. We plan to keep hosting one each quarter. However, with such a frequency comes the pressure of ensuring engagement and creativity for each edition.

As organizers, we enjoy such challenges, especially the ones that make us feel like pulling our hair out. And so, each hackday forces us to think in and out of the box to bring forth an exciting twist to the event.

This raises an important question.

What do these exciting twists look like?

Well…

It all began when the first Virtual Hackday posed an entirely new set of issues for us due to the Work From Home transition. Remote work, while manageable on a day-to-day level, left a gap in social interactions. With this gap, no hackday can ever be successful. Good engagement is a must. Fortunately for us, our organization was running on Slack ever since.

In addition to this, organizers formed dedicated hop-on channels on Discord. Few of the volunteers were always present on these channels to engage with participants who need any help. To keep things interesting, there were short-game and singing jam sessions too. But, the limelight was completely stolen by the meme contests. To be honest, all this not only ensured better engagement; it gave us confidence that we can pull off Virtual Hackdays with style.

Now that virtual hack #1 was done and dusted, we started prepping for virtual hack #2. One of the observations from the organizing team was that our Hackdays by design encouraged participation from the tech crowd. However, this time, we were determined to take a new approach. We wanted it to go big and go inclusive. Thus, we introduced two tracks — Hackathon and Ideathon.

The Hackathon retained the same old format where each team got to hack a working tech prototype based on an idea of their choice. However, Ideathon, the new track, required participants to create a pitch and present it. The Ideathon was inspired by elevator pitches on the TV show “Shark Tank.” Such pitches need to be supported by user research, data, and any form of a design mockup.

Ideathon breathed new life into Hackday as we started seeing some out-of-the-ordinary, crazy hacky ideas across the org. We also saw supply operations, marketing, and inventory teams participating in a hack for the first time. Hence, our second virtual hack ensured we achieved what we strived for — diversity and inclusion.

For the third virtual hack, we wanted to try something completely new and witty. So our volunteers went back to the drawing board, chucked all of our previous ideas, and started from scratch. The general consensus was that we needed some creative way to drive participation further and nudge people to spend time ideating on ideas that matter.

It eventually hit us; people don’t want to spend their weekend developing software; they do that all week anyway–they want to build something crazy.

We delivered crazy was by introducing the concept of prompts. Prompts were nothing but cues to build your hacks around.

To make things exciting, participants had to choose one prompt from an already disclosed list: Time, Trust, Nutrition & Hope.

And one prompt from the surprise list; disclosed on the day of the hack: Environment, Bag, Unicorn & Anxiety.

With this, anyone could build anything; there were no rules on how teams should utilize the two prompts. It was all left to their creativity.

Interestingly, this ensured the highest participation and the lowest drop-off rate we’ve experienced at any hackday before. 80% of the teams who signed up presented with over 100 participants from all areas of the org!!!

Every participant, judge, and volunteer was absolutely elated, and once again, we encountered some brilliant hacks. But wait, all this is not over yet!!!

With the next hack upcoming in the next few weeks, we’re thrilled to announce the theme as — “Go live in 24 hours to solve for 10 minutes delivery”. I am really elated and excited for all the new ideas and see what adventure awaits!

Jacob John is a Data Analyst at Grofers. He is also one of the organizers of our Internal Hackdays. Got any questions for him? Reach out to him on LinkedIn.

And yes Grofers is hiring! If you want to be part of the hacker gang mentioned above, we’d love to hear from you.

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Hackdays with Twists was originally published in Lambda on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Grofers