There are many advantages to taking time off to try to build things in time-bound short burst hackathons. It allows engineers to get out of the comfort zone and challenge the status quo on unsolved problems. For most companies, it is a channel to attempt things out of the ordinary and for engineers to prove their potential. Moreover, it is a safe environment to fail fast and accelerate learning. At our studio, we extend this concept to host an annual event that has now become a festival for us — the Megathon.
Megathon — From Design to DevOps
Megathon is an annual hackathon competition to build experience-first solutions to unattempted problems. Unlike most hackathons focused only on a technical break-through, Megathon spans across from design to devops.
A typical team consists of business experience and creative designers, engineers, and design quality analysts working shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the competition.
The challenge starts with designers applying their rigor to imagine an experience and interface that puts the user at the center of the solution. The engineers then team up to build through the entire technical stack of the solution to exploit the possibilities of a production-ready solution. Later, the design quality analysts validate the entire experience for a fit with the users’ stated and unstated needs.
Why do we do it?
Every year, an army of volunteers work tirelessly behind the scene to pull this off. Aside from the obvious benefits of hosting a hackathon mentioned above, this event has tremendously contributed to our culture at work. Here are the three most impactful aspects of the Megathon for us.
Celebration of our diversity
Our studio is like a jigsaw puzzle of a few hundred practitioners across design and engineering disciplines with their unique shapes, sizes, and colors. This competition is an avenue to flex the muscles of our diversity to create differentiated solutions. So when our designers are vetting the best experience for the users, the engineers across the table shape the conversation with the art of possible using the latest technologies. That’s when we see the most sparks fly! This was visible on a product demo a team delivered for gamifying new hire onboarding experience to help imbibe our core values and work culture through activities in the physical world.
Cultivating a product mindset
Every Megathon challenge is an underlying quest to exploit a product-market fit for the solution the team is trying to build. We may not be a start-up, but this doesn’t limit us from building the mental muscles and the behaviors needed to create a disruptive solution to meet the needs in the local community and our clients. No matter what your role is on the team — the central question to everything you do revolves around how your work is going to create the right product for the user. One of the teams couldn’t entirely crack a navigation workflow using AR/VR technology in the time they had. Their decision-making process to weed out technical approaches that were less than optimal for the end-user experience was a central theme of their demo.
Can we? We can!
Most hardships show up on life’s calendar unscheduled. And when that happens, we draw inspiration and hope from previous challenges we and people around us have faced. Megathon is our safe environment to throw challenges towards own selves so we build the resilience we need for the future. Some of the most creative solutions in this competition have come from our campus recruits new to our business. Every year, Megathon preparation kicks off with training sessions for our practitioners to try out concepts and technologies new to them. One of the teams this year went all out to build a health fitness solution using progressive web app just to flex their muscles on picking up a new technology and exploring the possibilities.
Innovation in Practice
Long term impact and success of digital innovation hinges upon diverse teams working together to leverage individual strengths while grounded in shared values. An avenue like Megathon allows practitioners to do both, demonstrate the depth in their craft while building an experience with a shared vision for real-world challenges communities face within and outside of work! By no means, we have been able to fully crack these challenges. However, the Megathon is the best warm-up for us for the marathons that lie ahead.