The New Hackathon

POSTED BY Jason Kristufek - 09.11.12 - Creative

What do you get when you throw an idea, some soda, some pizza and a bunch of Fusionites (which is what we affectionately call ourselves) together in a room? It's a hackathon!

We recently put on an internal hackathon (our very own unique brainstorming session) and were all invigorated by the experience. We put aside our day-to-day responsibilities and got together around a table and a whiteboard and hashed out an idea. We voted on what the idea would be before the day started, so the only decisions to make were how to best attack it and roles we each would take. After a vigorous debate that lasted all of 15 seconds, we decided on a “One for all, and all for one” approach, because that’s how we roll.

We split the problem down into smaller chunks and each of us ventured out, finding that everyone, even the non-developers in the room, had a lot to contribute. True to its status of being one of the two hardest things in computer science, we agonized over the name of our app, and had a lot of laughs doing it. We set up servers, databases and source code repositories. We created wireframes, test data and brainstormed the best user experiences we could think of. Making our idea into reality took cooperation and collaboration.

That collaboration was apparent in the feedback we received after the hackathon was over. Here are a few choice comments from those who participated:
Luke: “I realized there’s room for ANYONE to walk in and contribute.”
Justin: “It was a constant cycle of defining what needed to be done and executing.”
Paul: “The idea that you have an open road ahead of you to accomplish a goal by any means necessary was very comforting.”
Ratnesh: “It was real high-paced development and we covered a lot in a day.”
Todd: “The energy and collaboration in the room was fantastic.”
Alberto: “I’m excited to participate in the next Hackathon.

So in the end, did we have a finished product? Absolutely not! That’s one of the best things about agile software development. The work is never complete. You start with next to nothing, build on what you create, get feedback from as many different sources as you can and improve, improve, improve.

In fact, we already have an improvement coming to the Hackathon. Next time we hold one, we’re changing the name to “Createathon.” Not everyone can sit down and hack out code, but everyone can create, and everyone adds value.
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