The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and the imposed lockdown meant many of our workforce had to stay at home and connect remotely. While the initial days were about adapting to the new normal. The idea of running Hackathons with everyone being remote was proposed to see how we collaborate and innovate when we’re all spread out. With a select team of 350 consultants, over a period of two weeks, we at LTI, ran a remote hackathon and generated more than 50 ideas and created MVPs for 35 of them. This program was coordinated by one of our core teams and many of these solutions are being shared with our clients.
This was a great example of not just working from home but being more productive from home. This was not a simple task and we learnt the art of doing Hackathons remotely. Here is a simple ready-to-use list of steps to make remote hackathons a success.
Need a core team
Right from the start, we realized that lot of the traditional methods of Hackathon would not work in a remote setup. Our goal was to encourage collaboration and creative thinking among teams. Coordination was the key to the success of this initiative. Hence, we setup a core team of passionate individuals, who are not only technical but can also guide & coach the teams.
Clear list of Use Cases / Themes
One of the common challenges with Hackathon is the lack of clarity on the outcome. With teams spread remotely this becomes even more complicated if there are no clear description of the problem statements. We tried to provide a clear set of real-world customer problems and simplicity themes for the teams to focus on solving.
Digital tools for Teaming
We extensively used Microsoft Teams and our team channels were buzzing with updates from everyone and kept the peer pressure and motivation on. None of the Agile ceremonies were missed, but all were transitioned to digital formats including Kibana dashboards. Teams also had their virtual fun sessions and lot of hidden talents came out in display.
Growing as Individuals
One of the best things to happen with a virtual setup was that associates were more open to experiment. We saw several of them pick roles (like SCRUM masters, product owners) that they haven’t done before. This was the best outcome and a true example of Growing from Home (GFH) for all these individuals.
Allow teams to experiment with Technology
This was of course a big surprise for us. When left to the teams, they picked the best and unknown of technologies from any where to build their solutions. These presented newer options and out-of-the-box thinking. It was a great awakening for our Architect community on the possibilities and the completeness of the solutions. We have picked few of these technologies to pursue deeper partnerships to present a joint proposition to our customers.
Staying on top of everything
Our core teams had detailed plans for team onboarding, guidelines for development strategies, tools usage, sand box setup, SCRUM ceremonies and at least 2 demo sessions before the final presentation. They also piloted an AI bot to conduct sensitivity analysis of the messages in Teams channels to get a pulse of the teams. This helped to gauge if some teams needed intervention or support even before it became evident. This is a powerful tool especially when the whole setup is remote.
Gamification works best when remote
Real-time dashboards on progress, leader boards and digital boards not only ensured transparency of the process, but created an environment of competitiveness and togetherness among teams. This made up for the gap of not being together in the same room and promoted better collaboration and bonding among team members. This is a must for any remote hackathon to be successful.
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